ADHD: New Info, New Drug
And Spencer says brain imaging and other kinds of studies show similarities between adult ADHD and ADHD in children. Many adults with the disorder report having had problems with concentration going back to childhood, he says.
So failure to treat ADHD early and aggressively means that the concentration problems caused by the disorder will accumulate over time, with multiple potential consequences, including later substance abuse, they say.
Steven Mirin, MD, the medical director of the APA, described a possible course of untreated ADHD leading to drug abuse: A kid who is criticized for being disruptive, and whom teachers don't look forward to having in class, will not likely find school a rewarding place to be, Mirin says.
And if he is unable to plan and organize homework assignments, he may also receive criticism from parents vexed by the child's inability to achieve.
In time, problems will accumulate. "If you have had that kind of legacy and school is not a rewarding place to be, you might look for other places for reward leading you to environments where drugs are available," Mirin says. "It's a slippery slope."
In related news at the meeting, researchers reported what appears to be successful treatment of ADHD using a nonstimulant drug called atomoxetine.
David Michelson, MD, tells WebMD that four trials of the new drug show that compared to placebo it is very effective in treating ADHD. Michelson is medical director for atomoxetine development at Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals Inc., which manufactures the drug. Lilly is a WebMD sponsor.
Michelson explains that the drug works on different brain chemical pathways than those believed to be affected by other ADHD drugs. "You want to have treatments from different classes of drugs that work in different ways, so there are as many options for patients as possible," he says.
And Michelson says atomoxetine does not appear to have the potential for abuse that has been associated with Ritalin and other stimulants.