Teen Substance Abuse Rates Higher With ADHD

A new study on ADHD

Teen Substance Abuse Rates Higher With ADHD

Teen Substance Abuse Rates Higher With ADHD

A new study shows substance abuse rates higher in teenagers with attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder. The results, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, revealed high substance abuse and cigarette use rates by adolescents with ADHD histories relative to those without.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburg School of Medicine and six other health centers across the United States have also found that, contrary to previous findings, current medications for ADHD do not counter the risk for substance abuse and substance use disorder among teenagers. This study is the first to examine teenage substance abuse and treatment for ADHD in a large, multi-site sample. It also is the first to recognize that increased use of cigarettes in teenagers with ADHD histories commonly occurs with use of other substances such as alcohol and marijuana.

“This study underscores the significance of the substance abuse risk for both boys and girls with childhood ADHD,” said Brooke Molina, PhD, professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and lead author of the report, in a prepared media statement. “These findings also are the strongest test to date of the association between medication for ADHD and teenage substance abuse.”

Researchers studied nearly 600 children over an eight-year period from childhood through adolescence to test the hypothesis that children with ADHD have increased risk of substance use and abuse or dependence in adolescence. Molina and colleagues also examined substance abuse patterns, the effects of ADHD medications over time and the relationship between medication and substance use.

The findings showed:

• 35% of ADHD kids used one or more substances by age 15 compared to 20% without the diagnosis.

• More than three times (10%) of the ADHD kids met criteria for a substance abuse or dependence disorder, suffering psychological problems, as compared to 3% of the non-ADHD kids.

• By age 17, the ADHD group was almost twice as likely to have marijuana abuse or dependence issues, 13% versus 7% respectively.

• More than twice as many of the ADHD diagnosed children smoked at a 17% rate compared to 8% of non-ADHD teens.

5.2 m children ages 3-17 ever diagnosed with ADHD
12% boys diagnosed
4.7% girls diagnosed

Toxic Dad, ADHD Child

Up to 4% of the U.S. population suffers from ADHD, which “is one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders of childhood,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

ADHD is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood, says the CDC. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking about what the result will be) or exhibit overactivity.

It is normal for children to have trouble focusing and behaving at one time or another. However, children with ADHD do not grow out of these behaviors.

The symptoms continue and can cause difficulty at school, at home or with friends. The children have a hard time paying attention, daydream, seem not to be able to listen and are easily distracted from schoolwork. They forget things and are in constant motion, unable to stay seated, squirming, fidgeting and talking out of turn. But what’s worse is a lifetime of bad decisions that ensue from impulsivity, and all without help at the beginning of the distraught teen’s life when he really needed guidance and knowledge from medicine, nutrition and psychology.

Genetics play a clear role in ADHD based on studies of twins that show shared comorbidities, and these studies go begging for further molecular research.

But how environment influences genetics is unknown. Environmental influences could predate conception by impacting the sperm. Male sperm damaged by working with toxic solvents at the machine shop or substance abuse in the father’s earlier years before he meets mother’s genetic coupling could result in an inherited tendency or susceptibility to ADHD.

Chemical Link

At the Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine in Lodz, Poland, researchers reviewed the current evidence on the impact of pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls and select metals on ADHD in children. The findings indicate that children’s exposure to organophosphate pesticides “may cause symptoms consistent with pervasive developmental disorder, ADHD, or attention problems. Exposures to organochlorine pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyl, flame retardants used in industrial transformers and capacitors, were associated with ADHD-like behaviors such as alertness, quality of alert response and cost of attention. The studies provided evidence that blood lead level below 10 μg/dl was associated with ADHD or ADHD-related symptoms.

But is there a cure? Do kids grow out of ADHD? Looking at some of the long-term research, the results are mixed.

avoid drug dependency

Helping ADHD as early as possible and using those early years to support a child’s health without medication could be essential to helping him or her avoid dependency on both prescription and street drugs during the teen years.

One way parents are helping ADHD children is to support normal detoxification since we know that environmental influences including pesticides, PCBs and lead contribute to or exacerbate the condition. Throughout the last decade, the ADHD community has embraced influencing behavior through nutrition. This has relied on supplying the body with omega-3 fatty acids since an imbalance seems to underlay this condition; natural chelation agents to lower overall body burden of pollutants; and probiotics or beneficial bacteria that can help digestion. Interestingly, the gut could be a healing site, say naturopaths. No true outside cure exists. Not until we understand the genetic component can science influence outcome with drug or medical therapy. So parents with few choices turn to alternative methods of helping children in the quest to reduce their risk of needing meds later.

Reversing IQ decline

An article by Holly Ruff, MD, developmental psychologist and professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reported on the reversal of intelligence decline among children with high lead levels when steps are taken to reduce their body burden. Among one subgroup of the 154 children she studied, a drop of up to 30 micrograms in blood lead levels led to a 10-point increase in intelligence scores.

In another study, children with clear-cut hyperactivity disorder and moderately elevated lead levels were treated with a lead-chelating agent in a random allocation, double-blind treatment regimen. “Statistically significant and obvious behavioral improvement was reported by three separate evaluators (i.e., parent, teacher and treating physician) of the child, suggesting a toxic relationship between moderately elevated lead levels and hyperactivity,” note the researchers.

An oral spray formula called PCA, developed for children and adults, has been used consistently in the childhood neurobehavioral community for over a decade for detoxification. The formula contains novel micro-fermented peptides from Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Acidophilus salivarus, Streptococcus thermophilus, fulvic acid, sea minerals and other fermentation compounds. This is done by allowing the bacteria to interact with whole foods such as blue-green algae, chlorella and phytoplankton. Its most promising compounds are novel peptides produced by the artisanal process of fermentation.

The formula utilizes the glycoprotein and enzyme residues from bacterial strains. These tiny peptidyl glycans, like all peptides, open up cell membranes by occupying cell receptors.

Bacterial organisms have been known to be capable of breaking down and altering organic and inorganic compounds. Bacteria also breakdown heavy metals such as mercury, which involves secretion of the enzyme mercuric reductase. Research in the area of toxic metal transformation by Bacillus subtilis has established the potential of this organism for the remediation of selenium- and chromium-contaminated soil and water environments. Probiotic species such as Lactobacillus also secrete compounds meant to insure their survival against toxic metals.

PCA is a nondrug approach to natural health that works broadly to support overall detoxification. It doesn’t offer a cure to the condition of ADHD but aims to help the body in its normal detoxification pathways to promote health. “In the beginning, we thought of PCA as simply a better method to support the body’s normal ability to remove heavy metals. We realize now we have a universal product with many facets,” says James Cole, Maxam Labs CEO.

Many chemicals probably cause ADHD. The idea is to get kids on a natural routine as soon as possible. And while there is no such thing as a cure, parents have a number of nutrition options that they should explore in order to support their child’s overall quality of life and perhaps even help them to stay off drugs.

Brody, J.E. “Lead-poisoning harm held to be partly reversible.” The New York Times, April 8, 1993:A18. David, O.J., et al. “The relationship of hyperactivity to moderately elevated lead levels.” Arch Environ Health, 1983;38(6):341-346. Molina, B.S.G. et al. “Adolescent Substance Use in the Multimodal Treatment Study of Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (MTA) as a Function of Childhood ADHD, Random Assignment to Childhood Treatments, and Subsequent Medication. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 52(3):250-263, March 2013. PolaÅ„ska K, Jurewicz J, Hanke W.Review of current evidence on the impact of pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls and selected metals on attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children. Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2013 Mar;26(1):16-38. doi: 10.2478/s13382-013-0073-7. E-pub 2013 Mar 22.
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