A recent New York Times article entitled, The 4 Traits That Put Kids At Risk For Addiction, featured the results of a study and corresponding treatment program developed by Dr. Patricia Conrod at the University of Montreal. Dr. Conrod’s research points to several ‘personality traits’ that “can identify 90 percent of the highest risk children, targeting risky traits before they cause problems.” The four traits identified in the study? Sensation-seeking, impulsiveness, anxiety sensitivity and hopelessness. As a parent of a child with ADHD who suffers from impulsiveness (one of the cornerstone behavior issues of ADHD), you may then wonder: does this mean my child will struggle with addiction as a teen or an adult?
My own research has focused on alcohol and drug use in college students with ADHD. So I wanted to take a moment to share with you what the research today shows on ADHD and addition, and what steps you can take to help your teen and young adult avoid falling into some of these patterns. Research on ADHD and addiction does indeed show that both males and females with ADHD are at increased risk for alcohol and drug-related problems and addiction. My own research shows that while college students may report using the same amount of alcohol or marijuana as their peers without ADHD, they experience greater negative consequences and impairment as a result of their use. Across multiple studies by a variety of researchers, adolescents with ADHD are more likely to start using alcohol or drugs earlier than adolescents without ADHD. And, early initiation of alcohol or drug use, even in small amounts at first, is associated with increased risk for alcohol or drug problems later in life. The individuals with ADHD who are at the greatest risk for addiction are those who have a history of alcohol or drug addiction in their family. In fact, researchers have even identified a shared genetic link between ADHD and alcohol use disorders that may contribute to this risk.
As parents there are things that you can do now to help protect your child or teen from developing alcohol or drug-related problems. I recommend focusing on four areas:
A diagnosis of ADHD does not mean your child is destined for a life of addiction. What it does mean is that ADHD doesn’t usually go away. ADHD is usually a lifetime diagnosis that requires constant vigilance. Throughout your child’s life, beginning with diagnosis and all through adulthood, he or she will be confronted with situations that challenge him or her differently than his or her peers because of his or her ADHD. But the key to success, now and in the future, is acknowledgement and awareness, together with a set of tools and strategies to overcome those situations and thrive!
Mary Rooney, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco. Dr Rooney researcher and clinician specializing in the evaluation and treatment of ADHD and co-occurring behavioral, anxiety, and mood disorders. A strong advocate for those with attention and behavior problems, Dr. Rooney is committed to developing and providing comprehensive, cutting edge treatments tailored to meet the unique needs of each child and adolescent. Dr. Rooney's clinical interventions and research avenues emphasize working closely with parents and teachers to create supportive, structured home and school environments that enable children and adolescents to reach their full potential. In addition, Dr. Rooney serves as a consultant and ADHD expert to Huntington Learning Centers.
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This website does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only.