Parents of teenagers with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) will be interested in the results of a new report that was published in the professional journal of child and adolescent psychiatrists. The report says that teens with ADHD are more likely than their non-affected peers to use substances including tobacco if they are not taking their medication. On the other hand, the report cited data which showed that teens who are taking their ADHD medication have hardly any greater likelihood of abusing substances than kids with no mental health condition.
The report is filled with comparative rates of use. For example, 35 percent of 15 year olds with ADHD were found to have used at least one substance compared to 20 percent of 15 year olds without ADHD. Not every teen who uses a substance has significant problems as a result, but 10 percent of teens with ADHD did have notable consequences while just 3 percent of teens without ADHD experience significant problems.
Kids With ADHD Start Using Substances Earlier
Kids with ADHD not only experience a higher risk of serious problems, but they tend to start using substances at an earlier age than their peers as well. The report found that by age 17 years, 13 percent of teens with ADHD had used marijuana while only 7 percent of their peers had tried pot by that time. Kids who use one substance tend to use another as well. Around 17 percent of teens with ADHD smoked tobacco daily versus just 8 percent of teens without the illness.
The good news in the report was that teens who were taking their ADHD medication showed use rates more comparable to their non-ADHD peers. The rates held true for both boys and girls both in the negative (higher risk) and the positive (medication lowers risk). So parents who want to mitigate the substance use risk for their teens should be encouraging them to remain faithful to their treatment regimen.