The use of stimulant medication to treat Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

The use of stimulant medication to treat Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) does not lead to substance abuse, report two studies in the January issue of Pediatrics. A recent study carried out through the University of Massachusetts Medical School followed 147 children with ADHD for 13 years. It found no link between childhood stimulant treatment and increased risk of later drug abuse. However, stimulant treatment of older, high school-age students was associated with a slightly increased cocaine use. Researchers believe this may have been due to the severity of coexisting conduct disorders in this high-school population.

In other research reviewing six long-term studies involving more than 1,000 students with ADHD, results suggest that stimulant therapy in childhood is associated with a reduction in the risk of subsequent drug and alcohol disorders. Drug abuse was reduced by half among youth who had received stimulant treatment as children. Researchers contend, however, that there is a need for randomized, controlled studies to verify these results.

Pediatrics, January 2003 Volume 111 Number 1

Published in ERN March 2003 Volume 16 Number 3

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