Teenagers With ADHD and Conduct Disorder At Higher Risk For Substance Abuse

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A study recently published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence says teenagers diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and conduct disorder, a behavioral and emotional disorder marked by aggressive, destructive, or deceitful behavior, are more likely to use alcohol and tobacco than their peers.

teen-substance-abuse_largeThe study, from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, is one of the first to assess the association between these conditions in teens.

The findings highlight the need to be able to identify youth at risk for substance abuse, according to the study authors.

“Early onset of substance abuse is a significant public health concern,” said William Brinkman, M.D., a pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the study’s lead author.

“Adolescents who use substances before the mid-teen years are more likely to develop dependence on them than those who start later. This is why prevention is so important.

The research team studied data on over 2,500 teenagers between the ages of 12 and 15, using data from the 2000-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANED). The NHANED is a nationally representative sample of the United States Population intended to collect information about health.

The findings indicate teens with a diagnosis of ADHD and conduct disorder were three to five times more likely to use tobacco and alcohol and began substance abuse at younger ages than those with neither disorder.

The study also found having ADHD alone was linked to an increased risk of tobacco use but not alcohol use.

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