Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

ADHD in Children Health Center

Font Size

ADHD at 6, Alcoholic at 16?

Study Shows Kids With ADHD Risk Alcohol Abuse as Teens
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 27, 2007 - Children with ADHD are more likely than other children to abuse alcohol in their teen years, a long-term study shows.

The study looked at 364 children with ADHD -- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder -- enrolled in the Pittsburgh ADHD Longitudinal Study.

Psychologist Brooke S.G. Molina, PhD, and colleagues interviewed the kids and their parents at the beginning of the study and again, eight years later, during adolescence (ages 11 to 17) or young adulthood (ages 18-25). They also interviewed 120 adolescents and 120 young adults never diagnosed with ADHD.

"We found that children with ADHD are more likely to report heavy drinking in their teen years, and more problems from drinking, than non-ADHD teens," Molina tells WebMD. "In the United States, 5% of teens have this problem. We found that in their late teen years, 14% of children with ADHD had these drinking problems."

On average, teens without ADHD said they'd been drunk two times in the past year. Teens with ADHD said they'd been drunk 15 times in the past year.

Before age 15, kids with ADHD didn't abuse alcohol any more than did other kids.

When they reached young adulthood, the ADHD group did not, on average, drink more alcohol than did other young adults. But that may be because young adults, exploring their independence as well as their limits, tend to drink a lot. Molina notes that 18% of young Americans actually meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder.

Even so, some of the ADHD group -- those with persistent ADHD problems -- seemed to be drinking even more than other young adults did.

"A fair number of those adults eventually settle down. They get a family and job and bills to pay," Molina says. "Our question, as we continue this study, is whether those diagnosed with ADHD in childhood will have a harder time managing those transitions as adults."

Molina and colleagues -- including William E. Pelham, PhD, director of the Center for Children and Families at the University at Buffalo -- report their findings in the April issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Today on WebMD

doctor writing on clipboard
mother with child
disciplining a boy
daughter with her unhappy parents
preschool age girl sitting at desk
Child with adhd
father helping son with homework
children in sack race