Does taking medication for ADHD increase your risk for drug addiction or alcoholism? The answer is “no,” according to a new review of multiple studies.
This new research may help reassure parents who are concerned about the controversy over the use of medications to treat the disorder.
According to a story by Time.com reporter Maia Szalavitz, ADHD is now diagnosed in 11% of all schoolchildren. The condition is widely seen as being over-diagnosed, and many children in the US take medication for the disorder.
The research review looked at 15 different studies on ADHD, and it found that kids who were prescribed medications like Ritalin or Adderall, were NOT at greater risk for drug or alcohol addiction as adults.
Dr. Steve Lee at UCLA, a co-author of the study, says “The best evidence to date seems to suggest that treatment with stimulant medication has no substantial role in increasing or decreasing risk for the development of alcohol and drug problems,”
ADHD itself, with or without medication, is linked with a greatly increased risk for all types of addictions.
Some experts believe that proper treatment with medication may actually LOWER addiction risk by reducing stress. That’s because a child who does better in school and has better relationships with his peers while on medication seems far less likely to turn to drugs or alcohol for relief.
By the way, because of the possibility of misdiagnosis, parents who think that their children may have ADHD should get comprehensive testing from an expert specialist, not their regular pediatrician. This is especially true for children who are among the youngest in their class: research shows they are far more likely to be diagnosed when they really are simply acting their age.
For more on ADHD and its proper treatment, go to the CHADD.org
I’m Bill Maier for WBCL.