Exploring the Link Between Drugs, Alcohol, and Risky Behavior

We in the treatment field are well aware of a connection between Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and addiction.  This article explores some of the theory behind the observed facts, and what is being done about it.

Research suggests that children with ADHD are more likely than their non-ADHD peers to drink alcohol and use drugs later in life, specifically as teenagers. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology found that more than a third of the ADHD participants (out of 140 teenagers who had been diagnosed as children) reported smoking marijuana, compared to just over a quarter of the non-ADHD control group. Nearly twice as many in the ADHD group reported being drunk more than once in the previous six months.

For children whose ADHD continues into adulthood, the overall risk of developing a substance use disorder is as high as 50%, by some estimates. (Substance use disorders include a range of problematic drinking and drug-use patterns, not dependence or addiction alone.)

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