Can ADHD Drugs Curb Smoking In Teens?
August 27, 2012

Taking ADHD Drugs Could Prevent Smoking In Teens

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Researchers from Harvard Medical School (HMS) say that they have discovered evidence that taking medication to treat ADHD could decrease the risk that kids will begin smoking.

According to Frederik Joelving of Reuters, study leader Dr. Paul Hammerness, who also works in the Clinical and Research Program in Pediatric Pyschopharmacology and Adult ADHD at Massachusetts General Hospital, and colleagues admit that the evidence is on the weak side.

Nonetheless, they believe that it suggests that taking drugs like Ritalin, Concerta or Adderall to treat the disorder could ultimately make a person less likely to begin using cigarettes later on in life, he added.

"The study“¦ involved comparing three different teen populations," explained Tara Haelle of "One group of 154 adolescents with ADHD was treated with extended-release methylphenidate during the two-year study. The researchers then assessed the smoking rates of these treated ADHD patients and two other groups using a validated psychological questionnaire."

A second group was a historical sample of 103 teenagers who had been diagnosed with ADHD and served as a control group, while a third group of 188 had not been diagnosed with the ailment. Each group had similar demographics in terms of age and gender, Haelle said.

"After 10 months of treatment with the methylphenidate, the rate of smoking in the teens treated for their ADHD was 7.1 percent, which was similar to the rate of 8 percent in the teens without ADHD," she added. "The historical sample rate, however, which would be expected in the teens had they not been treated for ADHD, was 10.9 percent“¦ Therefore, the teens with ADHD who received treatment had about the same risk of starting to smoke as if they didn't have ADHD and a lower risk than if they had not been treated for the condition at all."

The findings were published online earlier this month in The Journal of Pediatrics.

"Hammerness, who has ties to several manufacturers of ADHD medications, said no firm conclusions could be drawn from his study," Joelving said. "But he also said that placebo-controlled studies -- the gold standard -- are hard to do because not treating children with ADHD for extended periods might be considered unethical."

According to WebMD, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) believes that an estimated 3% to 5% of all school-aged children in the US have ADHD, though some experts believe those figures could be as high as 10%. There is no single test that can diagnose the disorder, the NIMH said on their website.