Medication for ADHD in children: Risky?
June 16, 2016

Substance Abuse Problems May Be Linked to Medication for ADHD in Children

If your child suffers from issues with attention, excessive activity, or difficulty controlling behaviors that are not appropriate for their age group, they may have ADHD. ADHD in children is one of the most common diagnosis today. ADHD in children is described as a neurodevelopmental and mental disorder, that can occur as early as age six and remain present throughout various ages of life. While it is not curable, there are multiple treatment options available to manage symptoms. But some treatment options may be riskier for long term health. ADHD medications are one of the most commonly abused drugs on university campuses. Some consider ADHD medications to be dangerous and lead to a path of substance abuse later on. How do you determine if nonstimulant medication therapy or stimulant medication therapy is best for ADHD in children? Psych Central provided input by discussing a recent research study that evaluated the correlation between substance abuse and medications used early on for ADHD in children.

The University of Michigan Research

Researchers compared early-use and longer-duration stimulant medication therapy with nonstimulant therapy for ADHD. To acquire data, they asked thousands of individuals nationwide to answer a survey about ADHD medication and recent substance abuse. The study gained information from more than 40,000 individuals. Due to the large response rate and being so widely generalized, researchers could separate doctor-prescribed ADHD medications based on gender.

What They Found

Nearly one in eight high school seniors in the U.S. have been diagnosed with ADHD in children and used stimulant or nonstimulant medication therapy. There were no gender differences found for nonstimulant medication therapy, but males were more likely to use stimulant medication. Kids who take medications for ADHD in children like Adderall or Ritalin, that are taken over an extended period of time early on in life, are no more likely to develop substance abuse problems than teens without ADHD. But, teens who start using ADHD medications later in life, middle school or high school, are more at risk for developing substance abuse problems. Monitoring children or teens use of stimulant medication is suggested if there are concerns from parents or therapists. Switching to a nonstimulant medication therapy may be better for certain people.

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