WEDNESDAY, May 29 (HealthDay News) -- Children taking stimulants to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) don't face a greater risk of becoming drug addicts in adulthood, researchers report.
Whether or not these medications (such as Ritalin or Adderall) increase the odds of children becoming addicted later to alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, nicotine or other drugs has been debated for years, with studies coming to conflicting conclusions.
"Previously, there was evidence for both increased risk and decreased risk for substance problems related to stimulant medication in the treatment of ADHD," said study author Kathryn Humphreys, a doctoral student in psychology at University of California, Los Angeles.
"The present study suggests that, on average, children who received stimulant medication treatment for ADHD are at no differential risk for these substance outcomes than their counterparts who did not receive medication treatment," she said.
Many parents face difficult decisions regarding the best course of treatment for their child's ADHD, Humphreys pointed out.
"Pediatricians and child psychiatrists also must weigh the potential costs and benefits of various treatment options. Our study provides an important update to clinicians," she noted.
"Particularly for those who are concerned that stimulant medication is a 'gateway' drug or increases the risk for later substance use, there is no evidence at the group level for this hypothesis," Humphreys stated.
One expert said that an earlier study had even found a protective effect from stimulants that reduced the risk of children with ADHD going on to abuse drugs.
"That was accepted as gospel, and pediatricians had taken comfort in that there was a secondary benefit to treating patients with stimulant medications," said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental & behavioral pediat
All rights reserved