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Alcohol Health Res World. 1998;22(2):127-30.

AOD use and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

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Substance Abuse Services, Clinical Research Program in Pediatric Psychopharmacology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA.


Children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often continue to exhibit significant impairment in academic, occupational, and social functioning throughout adulthood. In addition, children with ADHD are at increased risk for developing alcoholism and other drug addictions, especially if alcoholism or ADHD exists in other family members. Alcohol and other drug (AOD) abuse may develop earlier in life (i.e., in midadolescence) when ADHD is accompanied by certain behavioral or mood disorders. The nature of the link between ADHD and AOD use disorder is unknown, although the association may be mediated by the co-occurring disorders just mentioned. In addition, ADHD-related AOD abuse may develop initially as an attempt to alleviate symptoms of mental distress associated with chronic failure, feelings of inadequacy, and conflict with parents and peers. Therapeutic intervention should incorporate both addiction and mental health treatment, including appropriate use of psychiatric medications.

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