Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Proper treatment for ADD in adolescence with stimulant medication reduces substance abuse problems

A Massachusetts General Hospital study found that girls with ADHD who were treated with medication were less likely to develop substance abuse disorders according to an article on Reuters Health Day on October 6, 2008. Here is a snippet from that article:

Stimulant treatment for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) significantly cuts the odds that adolescent girls will smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs, a new Massachusetts General Hospital study shows.
The finding parallels previous studies in boys, the team note.
People with ADHD are at significantly increased risk for cigarette smoking and substance abuse. In the past, there were concerns that treatment of ADHD with stimulant drugs such as Ritalin might increase the risk of drug or alcohol abuse.
But in several studies of boys and young men with ADHD, researchers have found that stimulant treatment actually decreases the risk and delays the onset of substance abuse in adolescence. It does not affect the risk of using tobacco, alcohol, or drugs in adulthood, however.
The same researchers set out to see how stimulant treatment for ADHD affects the risk of substance abuse in adolescent girls.

This is an interesting finding for I have found recently many adult clients who tell me that they started drinking and drugging in their early teen years, like 12 and 13. When I carefully question them about their school experience it becomes pretty clear that they have ADD and as one man in his 40s told me, "My parents didn't believe in medication." He said he has been smoking pot since he was 13.
There is an uninformed opinion among many health care providers and lay people that the treatment of ADD symptoms with medications will lead to substance abuse when in fact the opposite is the case.

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