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Does Childhood Use of Stimulant Medication as a Treatment for ADHD Affect the Likelihood of Future Drug Abuse and Dependence?: A Literature Review

NCJ Number
Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse Volume: 18 Issue: 4 Dated: 2009 Pages: 343-358
Shawn M. Golden
Date Published
October 2009
16 pages
This study examined the effects of central nervous system (CNS) stimulant medication in subsequent substance abuse and dependence.
Results of the meta-analysis suggest that the literature appears to contain conflicting data and divergent opinions regarding the role of stimulant medication in later adolescent and adult substance abuse. Four studies indicated that stimulant medication increased the likelihood of substance use; one indicated no risk; and four suggested decreased risk. Authors have suggested that children prescribed CNS stimulant medication were at greater risk for drug abuse and dependence. Others indicated that children taking stimulant medication were no more or less likely to abuse drugs than the control groups. Finally, another group of studies suggested that taking stimulant medication to treat symptoms of ADHD actually had a protective effect, reducing the propensity toward drug abuse and dependence. Since a minimum of 4 to 5 percent of children in the United States will be diagnosed with ADHD, it is important for parents to be informed when making decisions about the use of stimulant medication to treat symptoms. Considering the inconsistencies in the literature, it is still difficult to determine the true effects of stimulant medication on drug abuse and dependence in adulthood. References