HealthDay News – Young adults with attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have an increased prevalence of substance use disorders (SUDs), including alcohol use disorders, according to a study published online Aug. 3 in Alcohol and Alcoholism.
Esme Fuller-Thomson, Ph.D., of the University of Toronto and colleagues conducted a secondary analysis of the Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health, which included 6,872 respondents ages 20 to 39, of whom 270 had ADHD. SUDs were derived from lifelong algorithms for alcohol, cannabis, and other substance abuse or addiction.
The researchers found that 36 percent of young adults with ADHD had a lifelong alcohol use disorder, compared with 19 percent of those without ADHD. After adjusting for all control variables (odds ratios 1.38, 1.46, 2.07 and 1.69, respectively), those with ADHD had an increased risk of developing alcohol use disorders, cannabis use disorders, other drug use disorders, and any SUD. The greatest weakening of the ADHD-SUD relationship was observed when a history of depression and anxiety was controlled, followed by childhood adversity and socioeconomic status.
“These results underscore the importance of treating depression and anxiety in caring for people with coexisting ADHD and SUD,” Fuller-Thomson said in a statement. “People with untreated depression and anxiety can self-medicate to manage the symptoms of an untreated psychiatric disorder, which can lead to increased substance use.”
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Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder Neurological behavioral disorders Substance use