Unrecognized or untreated ADHD in adolescents increases the risk that peers will engage in substance abuse of methylphenidate.
New research into the connection between substance abuse and the likelihood of ADHD in adolescents—and the effects on their peers, has yielded some surprising data. Of the 13,000 teens in Atlantic Canada who participated in the 2002 Student Drug Use Survey, six percent, regardless of gender, were found to have ADHD (using the Ontario Child Health Study Hyperactivity Scale as a screening test).
Among those students, 26 percent who were prescribed methylphenidate gave or sold some of their medication. Students in a class where at least one student had given or sold some of their prescribed pills had a higher risk of non-medical methylphenidate use than those in classes where no giving or selling had taken place.
The study highlights the importance of proper assessment and management of ADHD in minimizing the risk of diversion and substance use associated with unrecognized or untreated ADHD.
Details of the study are published in the May 2007 issue of Addiction.