Taking ADHD medicines can curb future alcohol abuse, drug addiction, study finds

A new study out of Indiana University studied the health care claims of 2,993,887 adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder from 2005 to 2014. It looked at whether there were claims for substance-related events such as emergency room visits during the months in which they were prescribed medication for ADHD and when they were not prescribed medication.

Teacher Herbert McArthur, Jr. works with Samantha N. as Jesus G. gets a little distracted from his studies during a special summer program for children with ADHD in Florida. A new study points to the importance of taking medication for ADHD into adulthood. (Emily Michot/Miami Herald/TNS)

What researchers found was that men had 35 percent lower odds of having an incident when receiving the medication and women had 31 percent lower odds. Men also had a 19 percent lower odds of having an incident in the two years after medication and women had a 14 percent lower odds.

The researchers concluded that ADHD medications do not lead to more substance abuse; in fact, they seem to lower the risk of having an incident.

“This study contributes to growing evidence that ADHD medication is linked to lower risk for many types of harmful behavior, including substance abuse,” said Patrick D. Quinn, a postdoctoral researcher in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, who led the study, in a press release. “The results also highlight the importance of careful diagnosis and compliance with treatment.”

The study will be published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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A lot of parents struggle with whether to give their children ADHD medications and many parents of teens also struggle to make sure that their teens are taking the medication.

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This study follows a previous study that found that people with ADHD who took medications had a lower risk of car accidents.   Women in that study had a 42 percent lower risk and and men had a 38 percent lower risk.

“Together, these studies provide accumulating evidence about the possible short- and long-term benefits of ADHD medications,” said Brian M. D’Onofrio, a University of Indiana professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, in a press release. “They also provide important information to medical providers who prescribe ADHD medication — as well as to adults with the disorder and parents trying to make medical decisions for children. Overall, I think people should find these results reassuring.”

We do know that ADHD medicine should only be taken by people who have ADHD. Last year we reported a 67 percent rise in emergency room trips by people who did have ADHD taking Adderall.

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