ADHD Medication Found To Reduce Risk Of Substance Abuse Among Those With The Disorder
A new study has found that the use of medication in the treatment of ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) is linked to a lower risk of substance abuse (referred to as “substance-related events.)
The research, which was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry last month, is believed to be the largest study yet to examine if medications for ADHD are linked to different risks for substance-related problems.
The data was culled from the Truven Health MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters databases of “deidentified” claims for inpatients, outpatients, and prescription drugs. Using this data, from 2005-2014 investigators found nearly 3 million people age 13 or older who received either a diagnosis for ADHD, stimulant treatment for ADHD, or the non-stimulant drug atomoxetine.
The average age of the study subjects was 25 years, and patients were following for 16 months. First, researchers compared substance-related events in individuals with ADHD to those experienced by people without the disorder.
They discovered that both female and male ADHD patients were more likely to encounter at least one substance-related problem than were other male and females controls without ADHD. The odds for ADHD-diagnosed women increased by 3.3%, and the odds of having an event increased by 2.7% for males.
Next, investigators examined the link between ADHD medications and substance-related problems for both men and women. They underwent population-level and within-individual examination in those with ADHD with or without a history of substance abuse disorder, no other psychiatric medicines, and no psychotherapy. They focused on only first events.
The within-individual models were compared by periods in which medications were used versus periods of no medication. In addition to associations occurring with the same 30 days, investigators discovered links between the use of ADHD medication and substance-related events occurring long-term (two years later.)
Reduced Risk of Substance Abuse Risk
The adjusted odds of substance-related problems among males were 19% lower at the population level, and 11% lower among women during months that medications were used versus months they were not used.
Also, for men, the adjusted odds of within-individual comparisons revealed that use of medication for ADHD was associated with more than one-third lower odds of substance-related abuse occurring within the same month.
The odds were comparable for women, revealing a reduction of 31%
Adjusted population models revealed small increases in risk for substance-related events among women over the long-term. However, in within-individual models, use of ADHD medication was associated with a 19% reduction in the odds of substance abuse events occurring two years later in men and a 14% reduction in among women.
Unfortunately, investigators were unable to identify differences between stimulants and non-stimulant medications because the vast majority of subjects were on stimulants.
The authors concluded:
“These results provide evidence that receiving ADHD medication is unlikely to be associated with greater risk of substance-related problems in adolescence or adulthood. Rather, medication was associated with lower concurrent risk of substance-related events and, at least among men, lower long-term risk of future substance-related events.”
Researchers found evidence of links between the use of ADHD medications and a reduced risk for auto accidents, criminality, depression, injuries, and suicide.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology