Childhood ADHD Tied to Substance Use Issues in Adults

ADHD linked to substance use disorder and cigarette smoking in adults, regardless of gender

FRIDAY, June 10 (HealthDay News) -- Childhood attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a significant risk factor for the development of substance use disorder (SUD) in adulthood, irrespective of gender, according to a study published in the June issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

Timothy E. Wilens, M.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues investigated the characteristics of children that could lead to the development of SUDs, and whether these characteristics were affected by gender. Participants included 268 children and adolescents of average age 10.9 years with ADHD classified according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders III and 229 participants of average age 11.9 years without ADHD. Psychopathology and SUD were assessed using structured interviews at a 10-year follow-up.

The investigators found that childhood ADHD was a significant predictor of both any SUD and cigarette smoking (hazard ratio [HR], 1.47 and 2.38, respectively). Baseline comorbid conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder significantly predicted SUDs (HR, 2.74 and 2.21, respectively), with similar results for cigarette-, alcohol-, and drug-use disorders. Results were similar for both genders. There were no significant correlations seen for social or family environmental factors, or cognitive functioning factors.

"These results indicate that ADHD is a significant risk factor for the development of SUDs and cigarette smoking in both sexes," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry, including Eli Lilly, which partially funded the study.

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