A study which was recently published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has demonstrated an undeniable link between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and substance abuse, and has also made a strong recommendation that we move away from depending almost exclusively on drugs to treat the symptoms of ADHD, favoring instead approaches which do not rely on medication.

The study was jointly funded by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Office of Special Education Programs of the US Department of Education, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the Justice Department. It tracked the development of 600 children over a period of several years, and it found that those who had received a diagnosis for ADHD by the age of eight and a half years were substantially more likely to engage in high rates of substance abuse or to develop a substance abuse disorder within six to eight years, as compared with their age peers who were not diagnosed with ADHD. This increased risk was present for both boys and girls. Whereas only three percent of young people without ADHD demonstrated the criteria for a substance abuse disorder, the figure was more than triple that for children who had received an ADHD diagnosis.

It would be natural to assume that the higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction among children who were diagnosed with ADHD could be easily chalked up to the fact that a large percentage of these young people were, as a result of their diagnosis, placed on powerful prescription drugs. According to a report published in the Wall Street Journal, approximately 55 million prescriptions are written annually for ADHD drugs including Ritalin and Adderall, at a profit of more than $8 billion for the drug companies that manufacture these medications. Methylphenidate, the scientific name for Ritalin, is chemically almost identical in structure and action to cocaine.

In fact, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies Ritalin in the same category of drugs with cocaine, as a Schedule II controlled substance. Another Schedule II drug is Adderall, which is actually amphetamine. Putting such powerful and dangerous drugs in the hands of children and young adults could be expected to be dangerous, and indeed it is. One in nine Americans between the ages of 12 and 25 admit to abusing prescription drugs, according to a recent survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Many young people who have been prescribed ADHD drugs quickly learn to take additional pills, whether as a study aid or simply to get high for recreational purposes, and they often learn to crush and snort the pills in order to get a faster and more powerful high. A large number of these teens also share their medications with friends or even sell them.

Are Drugs The Best Answer For ADHD

While it almost seems to be a foregone conclusion that children who are placed on Ritalin or Adderall would be more likely to end up using other drugs later on, the results of the study refute this idea. No noticeable variation was discovered between the rates of substance abuse among the children who were receiving ADHD drugs and those who weren’t. Evidently, the presence of ADHD symptoms is enough to set a young person up for a future of substance abuse or dependence. The researchers did not uncover any evidence as to why this is, though they did forward a hypothesis of three possible contributing factors.

Children who display symptoms of ADHD tend to display more impulsive behavior, they don’t do as well in school, and they often experience difficulty in building friendships, all of which are conditions which may make it more likely that a child will eventually turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to relieve pressure and anxiety. The researchers also stressed that drugs should not be the only treatment approach to handling ADHD. Drawing a comparison with other conditions such as high blood pressure and obesity, they recommended that nonmedical treatments be explored for helping to relieve ADHD symptoms.

In fact, similar solutions may be effective for ADHD just as they are for being overweight or having high blood pressure: By providing children with more opportunity to exercise — rather than spending interminable hours sitting at school desks only to come home to sit in front of a television or computer screen — as well as improving their diets with more fresh fruit and vegetables and less refined sugar, parents are often successful at helping their children enjoy happy, drug-free lives. Narconon drug rehabilitation center has seen this in schools as well as through speaking with addicts later in life, during and after treatment.

Source:  http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/779755

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