Despite the stigma, stimulant medications for ADHD discourage children from using drugs later in life.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental disorders in children, by far.Any parent who resists giving their child some of the prescribed medications designed to treat it. One of the most prevalent concerns is that prescribing stimulant medications could lay the foundation for future drug use, including illegal drug use.

However, this medication is often the first treatment where childhood ADHD symptoms begin before the age of 12. For some children, methylphenidate, known by the brand name Ritalin, is the best option. It can relieve symptoms of ADHD that impair a child’s performance in school, as well as interfere with making and maintaining friendships. Stimulant medications are used to help children focus and pay attention better.

The Drug Enforcement Administration classifies some stimulant medications as Schedule 2 substances, which means they may induce euphoria and can be addictive. Of course, many parents may worry about how this will happen when the child grows up. However, despite their classification, taking stimulant medications as a child is not associated with drug use problems later in life, according to a new study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Said co-author Dr. Brooke Molina, MD, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, told Salon: “I hope parents and caregivers can use this to get a little relief.” “If they feel the child’s conditions they are treating or are dealing with, that stimulant medication is prescribed, and that they can feel some relief that they are not adding to the existing risk that children with ADHD already have a substance use disorder by giving them stimulant medications.”

Molina and her colleagues analyzed 579 patients with ADHD over a 16-year period between childhood, adolescence, and adulthood to see if there was any link between taking stimulant medication and later drug use. During the time period, Molina and her colleagues interviewed children and parents, and collected data and questionnaires from their teachers and schools.

Molina and her colleagues found no relationship between stimulant treatment and drug use

“The data we have on these children is extensive, and that’s what created a really useful opportunity for us to answer this very question: which is, ‘Do children with ADHD who are treated with stimulant medication have a higher risk of drug abuse or higher risk? substance use disorder? ”. “And one of the things that was particularly useful about this data set is that we had very detailed records about their substance use.”

Molina and her colleagues found no relationship between stimulant treatment and drug use. In Molina’s study, she and her colleagues looked at the data in multiple ways to confidently reach their conclusion. Despite looking at the data from multiple angles, they found no correlation.

“I hope parents and caregivers can use this to get a little bit of relief.”

study co-author Tracy Kennedy, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, said in a news release. “Taking these factors into account allowed us to more accurately test the relationship between doping and drug use.”

As Molina explains, children with ADHD have a high risk for substance abuse. But Molina compared it to being the daughter of an alcoholic father.

“Just because you have a mother or father who has or has had an alcohol use disorder, it in no way means that you will develop it,” Molina said. “But you have a high stakes.”

Notably, Molina’s study also did not find “protective effects” of stimulant medications.

“There is a lot of strong belief that taking medication, starting it earlier, taking it longer, taking it consistently will lead to better outcomes in the long run,” Molina said, adding that that would generate the hypothesis that children are being treated in this way. They have a lower likelihood of a substance use disorder as adults. “So we didn’t find that and that is something that will surprise some readers.”

Diagnoses of ADHD have continually increased Since the 90s. Approximately 1 in 10 children and adolescents between the ages of 3 and 17 living in the United States currently has a diagnosis of ADHD. As a follow-up, Molina will explore one of the study’s big limitations.

“We have followed individuals from infancy receiving treatment in childhood through to older ages, but we do not have children in this study whose treatment began in adolescence or adulthood,” said Molina. “And this might be a different kettle of fish.”

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