Meta-analysis shows medication treatment decreases risk of future substance abuse
An analysis of all available studies that examine the possible impact of stimulant treatment for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) on future substance abuse supports the safety of stimulant treatment. Using a statistical technique called meta-analysis, the researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) found that medication treatment for children with ADHD resulted in an almost two-fold reduction in the risk of future substance abuse. The report appears in the January 2003 issue of Pediatrics.
"We know that untreated individuals with ADHD are at a significantly increased risk for substance abuse. And we understand why parents often ask whether stimulant medications might lead to future substance abuse among their children," says Timothy Wilens, MD, MGH director of Substance Abuse Services in Pediatric Psychopharmacology, the paper?s lead author. "Now we can reassure parents and other practitioners that treating ADHD actually protects children against alcohol and drug abuse as well as other future problems."
Wilens and his MGH colleagues have conducted previous studies that found a protective effect in stimulant treatment. However, at least one report from another research center asserted that stimulant treatment increased the risk of later substance abuse. In order to resolve the question, Wilens group searched the medical literature for studies of children, adolescents and adults with ADHD that included followup information on later substance abuse. They identified six such studies conducted in the U.S. and Germany, which provided information on more than a thousand participants with ADHD -- 674 who received stimulant treatment and 360 who were non-medicated -- followed for four years or more. These studies included both the previous MGH research and the study suggesting increased risk.
Nicole Gustin | EurekAlert!
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