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Children with ADHD are More Likely to Develop Substance Abuse Disorders

6/30/2014 For Release:  June 30, 2014
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most common neurobehavioral disorder of childhood, affecting approximately 8 percent of children and adolescents. For school-age children with ADHD, treatment with both behavioral interventions and stimulant medications is recommended. However, stimulant medications have the potential for misuse, diversion and addiction. Because few clinical guidelines support physicians in managing the intersection of these disorders, the American Academy of Pediatrics, has issued a new clinical report, “Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and SubstanceAbuse,” appearing in the July 2014 Pediatrics (published online June 30). Children with ADHD are at high risk of both trying drugs and developing a substance use disorder. Stimulant medication may reduce this risk, and, despite the potential for misuse, there is no evidence that stimulants increase the likelihood of developing a substance use disorder. Prescribers are cautioned that many school-aged children - up to 23% - are approached to sell, buy or trade their medication. These findings underscore the need for careful diagnosis, anticipatory guidance for children prescribed stimulant medications, and careful monitoring to ensure appropriate use of stimulant medications. This new clinical report provides pediatricians guidance on these clinical activities.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 62,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.