Adhd and Substance Abuse

Topics: Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Attention, Dopamine Pages: 5 (1392 words) Published: October 21, 2011
ADHD and Substance Abuse 
                                            The Evidence Of Substance Abuse With ADHD  
                       The purpose of this paper is to identify the link between ADHD and substance abuse. Substance abuse is a true threat to people who are diagnosed with psychological disorders. Among the questions of precursors to substance abuse, lies the hypothesis that individuals diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may become addicted to drugs or alcohol. Multiple studies have been done to either prove or disprove this hypothesis. This paper will discuss the results of those studies and demonstrate whether this hypothesis stands true or false.  

                       ADHD is a disorder characterized as a chronic neurobehavioral problem. The exact etiology is unknown, however, it is believed that inherited genetic factors, environmental factors, lead exposure, dysfunctioning dopaminergic or noradrenergic neurotransmitters can be possible causes. Symptoms of ADHD are inattention and impulsitivity-hyperactivity. Children diagnosed with ADHD are at risk for academic, behavioral, and social functioning difficulties. These risk factors usually manifest themselves in both childhood and adolescent years. Treatments are available, but nonetheless, have been controversial since their evolution.  

                  ADHD first came to light in 1845 in a children’s book called The Story Of FidgetyPhillip, written by Dr. Heinrich Hoffman (Sircy & Stojanoski, 2008). A British physician, Dr. George Still described the disorder as a medical problem, and not a disciplinary problem. He published multiple articles and lectured his belief to many of students. Eventually, in 1937, Dr.Charles Bradley began prescribing stimulants to treat this disorder in children. It wasn’t until 1987, that the disorder earned its recognition by the American Psychiatric Associations (APA).Since the late 1980's, when ADHD was observed by the APA, there haven’t been many studies on the possible link to substance abuse until the early 1990's. These studies such as Mannuzza et al., and Bierderman et al., have attempted to prove their theories that either stimulant therapy does or does not lead to substance abuse. The results are both compelling and unbelievable at the same time.  

                Stimulant therapy is the first choice next to behavioral therapy in children with ADHD. It is pertinent to understand how stimulants work on a child in order to interpret the results of the study. The medications used to treat ADHD work in a paradoxical effect. Medications such as Adderall and Ritalin work differently in children then in adults. With children, these medications interrupt the reuptake mechanisms of dopaminergic neurons. The effects are decrease in motor restlessness, enhanced attention span and mood. In adults, there are still like side effects, however, adults become sleepless and have an increase in euphoric moods. There is also an increase in mental alertness. The interpretation of these symptoms will shed light onto the correlation of stimulant therapy and substance abuse.   

                      The study performed by Bierderman et al., compares subgroups of children with ADHD who received treatment with stimulants in childhood or adolescents with children who did not receive treatment (James, Swanson & Volkow 2008). The study revealed that treatment with stimulants did not reduce the risk of substance abuse. It did, however, show that stimulant treatment delayed the potential use of substances. Rather than using substances early in life, subjects eventually abused drugs or alcohol in the later years of life.  

                     In the study conducted by Mannuzza et al., the age that treatment was initiated was correlated with the age of substance abuse. This study was small and involved subgroups of children. These two groups where either...
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