Do ADD / ADHD medications increase the risk of drug and alcohol abuse problems in later life?
According to a 2003 study, the answer is no. In fact the use of ADD / ADHD medication significantly reduced the chance of drug and alcohol use in later life. THe study analyzed the data from six different studies covering a total of 674 people with ADHD who were medication and 360 who were not. All the participants progress had been followed for at least four years and monitored for drug or alcohol problems. This runs counter to animal research on the effects of ADHD medication on drug usage and just demonstrates how complicated this area is to research.
There are many different factors from genetics to poverty that can influence people’s decent into addiction. It has been thought that the use of ADD / ADHD medication might train or condition the central nervous system to expect stimulation. This might drive the user to pursue other forms of stimulation either through drugs or other high risk behaviour. This study suggests that by using the medication, the person with ADD / ADHD gets more control over their life and is less tempted by alternative medication.