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ADHD Drugs Don't Lead to Drug Abuse

Children Treated With Stimulants Are No More Likely to Later Use Illegal Drugs


"There is an organized campaign to pass misinformation about the use of these stimulants," says E. Clarke Ross of Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD). "These findings are very important to families who want reassurance that ADHD treatment options are safe and effective -- and particularly that stimulant medications are safe and effective. They reinforce the fact that if you or a member of your family is on stimulant medication for ADHD, you should not fear substance abuse disorders in the future."

Fischer's study tracked 147 clinic-referred hyperactive children for more than 13 years. They measured their tendency to use tobacco, alcohol, and drugs such as marijuana and cocaine in adolescence and early adulthood compared with another group not diagnosed with ADHD. All study participants were between ages 4 and 12 when the study began.

"One might expect that the longer a child stayed on the medication, the greater their risk for sensitization and later drug use," she tells WebMD. "But that didn't occur. There was no relationship at all."

Meanwhile, another report published in the same issue of Pediatrics suggests that stimulant treatment in childhood may actually lead to a lower risk of later drugand alcohol use. In that article, another group of researchers examined six previous studies tracking nearly 1,000 youths into adolescence and adulthood, finding that those taking stimulants had a lower rate of later substance abuse compared with kids who weren't treated with medication.

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