ADHD in Children: Medications Influence Potential Risk

Research Suggests Medications for ADHD in Children Create Risk of Substance Use

ADHD in children is described as a neurodevelopmental and mental disorder. ADHD in children creates issues with paying attention, excessive activity, or difficulty controlling behavior that is not appropriate for their specific age range. ADHD in children can occur as early as age six and last throughout life. There are multiple treatment options available, but some may create more long term risks than others. ADHD medications are one of the most commonly used drugs on university campuses. Many would argue that they can be a gateway drug, leading into a path of substance use among adolescents. But how do you determine if nonstimulant medication therapy or stimulant medication therapy is best for ADHD in children? A recent article by Psych Central discusses new research that suggests that medications for ADHD in children used at an early age, can influence substance use later on.

The Study

The University of Michigan conducted a research study to compare early-use and longer-duration stimulant medication therapy with nonstimulant therapy for ADHD. The study gained information from more than 40,000 individuals nationwide who answered questions about ADHD medication and recent substance use. Due to the study being so widely generalized, researchers could separate doctor-prescribed ADHD medication use by gender.

The Results

What they found was that nearly one in eight high school seniors in the U.S. have used stimulant or nonstimulant medication therapy for ADHD. Males are more likely to use stimulant medication, while no gender differences were found for nonstimulant medication therapy. Individuals who take medications for ADHD in children including, Ritalin, Adderall, or other stimulant medications over an extended period of time, early in life, are no more at risk for substance use than teens without ADHD. Though, teens who start using medications for ADHD in children for a short time later in adolescence, such as middle school or high school, are at a higher risk of substance use. Researchers suggest that if stimulant medication is prescribed for ADHD in children, therapists and parents watch adolescence closely. If substance use habits begin to occur, switching to a nonstimulant medication therapy may be more beneficial.

Elevations RTC can help

Elevations RTC is a leading residential treatment center for teens, ages 13 to 18, grappling with anxiety, depression, substance use, and other emotional or behavioral issues. As a residential treatment center for teens, we try to go above and beyond other RTC’s by having not only one on-site psychiatrist, but two practitioners who see each student weekly. We also have an academic component that uses an accredited curriculum and licensed/credentialed teachers. With all of this, we strive to give each student the most efficient and beneficial experience possible.

For more information about Elevations RTC, please call today!

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