The study found no relationship between having ever received stimulant treatment and the risk of future alcohol or other substance abuse. The age at which stimulant treatment began and how long it continued also had no impact on substance use.
"This study is a continuing effort to explicate the factors that mediate risk. It is methodologically sound and suggests that, as always, things are more complicated than we want them to be. The study demonstrates that the use psychostimulants for ADHD children do not increase the risk for substance abuse in adulthood, but it also suggests there is no protective effect, said Dr. Jon A. Shaw, director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at the University of Miami.
Symptoms of ADHD include impulsiveness, hyperactivity and inattention. According to a study published last fall in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, almost 9 percent of American children have ADHD, but only 32 percent of them are getting the medication they need.
"There is sufficient evidence that parents should be reassured that the use of psychostimulant medication for the treatment of ADHD in children and adolescents does not increase the risk for substance abuse in later life and remains the most effective treatment for this condition," Shaw said.
For more on ADHD, visit the National Institute for Mental Health.
SOURCES: Michael C. Monuteaux, Sc.D., assistant director, research, pediatric psychopharmacology program, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; Jon A. Shaw, M.D., professor and director, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Scie
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