Could stimulants help those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) also cut the odds that they will become smokers? New research says yes.
Adults with ADHD, it turns out, smoke at twice the rate of adults without the disorder. They also start smoking at a younger age than the general population. Additionally, young people with ADHD are two to three times more likely to smoke than those without it.
Characterized by hyperactivity and impulsivity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is often treated with stimulants such as Vyvanse or Concerta, behavioral therapy, or a combination of both.
Researchers from Duke Medicine are reporting on the potential for stimulant medication for ADHD patients to curb their likelihood of becoming smokers.
According to the study's senior author and the director of the Duke ADHD Program, Prof. Scott Kollins,
Given that individuals with ADHD are more likely to smoke, our study supports the use of stimulant treatment to reduce the likelihood of smoking in youth with ADHD.
"Nicotine operates on the same pathways in the brain as stimulant medications, and the relationship between stimulants and smoking has been controversial," says study co-author Erin Schoenfelder, PhD, clinical associate and a psychologist in the Duke ADHD Program. "It has been suggested that some people with ADHD 'self-medicate' their attention deficits using nicotine."
Their review analyzed 14 studies that looked at cigarette smoking and ADHD treatment, involving over 2,300 participants.
"Our findings show that treating ADHD effectively with medication may prevent young people from picking up the habit," Dr. Schoenfelder says.
The study has been reported in the journal Pediatrics.