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A Journal on Psychiatry, Psychology and Psychopharmacology

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Social Psychiatry
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Minerva Psichiatrica 2009 September;50(3);197-207

language: English

ADHD and comorbid substance use disorder

Bukstein O. G.

Department of Psychiatry, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA


Prospective studies report that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) persists from childhood in approximately 75% of adolescents and 50% of adults. Both researchers and clinicians have observed the frequent comorbidity of ADHD with adolescents and adults having substance use disorders (SUDs). This paper summarizes the literature on ADHD-SUD comorbidity, including prevalence, course, and treatment. ADHD appears to affect the risk for the development of SUDs and the use of stimulant medication does not appear to influence the development of SUDs in adolescents or adults. The few well-controlled studies of psychopharamcology suggests that while medications for ADHD may reduced ADHD symptoms, they have little effect on SUDs, necessitating psychosocial treatment for SUDs in this comrobid population. ADHD-SUD comorbidity should be identified and can be treated with many of the modalities and medications used for adults with ADHD alone. However, clinicians need to consider the timing of ADHD treatment as well as possible diversion or abuse.

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