Could ADHD Meds Promote Future Cocaine Use?


State-based Prevalence Data of all Children Receiving ADHD Medication Treatment (2011 - 2012)
State-based Prevalence Data of all Children Receiving ADHD Medication Treatment (2011 – 2012)

Boston University recently posted a series on their own addiction research. One examined whether there is a relationship between taking ADHD meds and future cocaine use.


The results of Kantak’s research could present a dual cautionary tale for adolescents diagnosed with ADHD. “If they’re an adolescent getting a stimulant medication, and they’re properly diagnosed, the medication may put them at increased risk” for cocaine use as an adult, Kantak says. “If they’re misdiagnosed, and get Strattera, this may also be putting them at greater risk…of acquiring an addiction to cocaine.”

Kantak’s bottom line? She thinks adolescents properly diagnosed with ADHD should take either Strattera or another nonstimulant medication, while those whose diagnosis is doubtful would be wise to stay away from Strattera. She also believes pediatricians need to be especially careful when arriving at diagnoses. At the same time, she cautions parents who may see certain symptoms and “convince themselves that their child has ADHD, while what they really want is to give them a better competitive edge.” That edge could have dire circumstances down the line.


This is especially concerning, given the high rates of ADHD diagnosis. From the CDC:


  • Approximately 11% of children 4-17 years of age (6.4 million) have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011.
  • The percentage of children with an ADHD diagnosis continues to increase, from 7.8% in 2003 to 9.5% in 2007 and to 11.0% in 2011.
  • Boys (13.2%) were more likely than girls (5.6%) to have ever been diagnosed with ADHD.
  • Prevalence of ADHD diagnosis varied substantially by state, from a low of 5.6% in Nevada to a high of 18.7% in Kentucky.


via The Addiction Puzzle, Part 2: Could ADHD Meds Promote Future Cocaine Use? | BU Today | Boston University.




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