ADHD May Increase Kids’ Risk for Substance Abuse Later in Life

Two new reviews of studies add to evidence that children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be at increased risk for abusing tobacco, alcohol and possibly other drugs when they are older. The reasons for the link are still unknown, according to Scientific American.

While the new reviews, or meta-analyses, indicate that ADHD in childhood is associated with tobacco and alcohol dependence in adulthood, the results on marijuana and other drugs are more mixed, the magazine reports. One review of studies in Clinical Psychology Review found that children with ADHD have a strong risk of abusing marijuana and cocaine. A review of studies published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry also found an increased risk for abuse of marijuana and other drugs, but concluded the results of the studies they reviewed were too mixed to reach a definitive conclusion.

The leaders of both study reviews agree that knowing there is a connection between ADHD and substance abuse means parents and doctors can start being especially vigilant about trying to prevent such abuse, including finding supervised activities outside of school and talking to the children about making good choices.

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