Parents agonize over giving medication to their kids who have Attention Deficit Disorder. Whether they do, or whether they don't, there is always that niggling doubt. Parents worry that giving stimulant medications like Adderall or Ritalin can cause a child to abuse substances.
Recent research gives valuable information regarding stimulant medication and smoking. Do you know that folks with Attention Deficit Disorder smoke at a much higher rate than those people who do not have ADD? Adults in the United States average 18.1 % who smoke, according to the Centers for Disease Control in a 2012 report. According to CHADD, Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, about 35% of adults with ADD/ADHD were daily smokers. That difference is statistically significant.
ScienceDaily states that a recent study reported online in the journal Pediatrics crunched data from 14 longitudinal studies looking at smoking in the population of people with Attention Deficit Disorder. They found that lower smoking rates were associated with taking stimulant medication to treat Attention Deficit Disorder. There was not enough evidence to conclude that this was a causal link, however, people who had uninterrupted treatment for longer periods of time, were less likely to smoke. This information was also reported in a USA Today story, dated May 12, 2014.
Why could taking stimulant medications affect smoking behaviors? Stimulant medications, such as Adderall and Ritalin use the same brain pathways as nicotine. When a person is treated with a stimulant medication, there might not be the same need to use tobacco as a means to improve focus. A youth who is getting an effective stimulant medication regimen might not start the nicotine habit.
While one perception is that taking stimulants to improve focus for people with Attention Deficit Disorder could cause a child to abuse substances, this study found that the opposite appears to be true. The researchers at Duke Medicine found a strong association between lower smoking rates and effective treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder with stimulant drugs. This information should help parents to answer the question, "Should I get medication to treat my child's ADD/ADHD?"
Duke Medicine. "ADHD treatment associated with lower smoking rates." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 May 2014.
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