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Young People Who Witness Substance Abuse More Likely to Engage in Antisocial Behavior

devpsychpathA new study of a group of teenagers found that they were much more likely to participate in destructive actions on the days when they witness substance abuse. While it has been known that active substance abuse occurring in the environment of young people can have a negative impact on their lives, this is perhaps the first set of data that was able to look at specific actions and record the evidence more precisely and efficiently.

“Past research has shown that children who grow up in families, schools and neighborhoods where alcohol and drugs are frequently used are at risk for behavioral problems later in life, but our findings demonstrate that these effects are immediate,” said Candice Odgers, associate professor in Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy and associate director of the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy.

The full results of the study appear in the journal Development and Psychopathology. One of the interesting things about this particular study is how they collected the data – via mobile devices. Rather than doing and end-of-the-day recap like other similar research, they were able to have the adolescents record their thoughts, actions and events real time via their cell phones.

It was also noted that teens with the genotype most common for ADHD diagnosis were more susceptible to acting out following the influence. Impulsivity combined with the exposure made for a difficult situation for these kids to deal with, resulting in the antisocial behavior.

“A series of studies has shown that consuming alcohol before age 15 predicts a wide range of later problems including substance dependency, involvement in criminal behavior and health problems. Our findings suggest that we may also need to prevent exposure to others using substances during this period,” Odgers said.

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol abuse or alcoholism, Addiction Treatment Services can help you find the best possible treatment. For more information, contact us.

Kids with ADHD Diagnosis More Likely to Drink and Smoke as Teens

drugalcdependA new study from the Cincinnati Pediatric Research Group shows that teens are more likely to start smoking or drinking with each additional symptom they have of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or conduct disorder.

Dr. William Brinkman, research director at Cincinnati Pediatric Research Group, analyzed data on more than 2,500 teens aged 12 to 15 in a national survey conducted with their parents between 2000 and 2004. The research team at Cincinnati Children’s hospital identified teens with ADHD and/or conduct disorders, and then compared the teens’ usage of tobacco and alcohol to see if there is a link between ADHD, conduct disorder and substance use.

Brinkman found that nearly half of the children in the study had at least one ADHD symptom, and nearly 15 percent had at least one conduct disorder symptom. For each additional ADHD symptom related to inattention, the risk that a teen would use tobacco or alcohol increased by 8 – 10 percent.

For the small percentage of children diagnosed with both ADHD and conduct disorder, the teens were more than three times more likely to use tobacco or alcohol.

“Our findings underscore the need to counsel families about the risk of substance use as [these] children approach adolescence,” said Brinkman. “This need is heightened among children with ADHD and/or conduct disorder diagnoses or symptoms.” He also said more research may provide clues as to why the link exists between these disorders and substance use.

Dr. Glen Elliott, chief psychiatrist and medical director of Children’s Health Council in Palo Alto, California says it is important to emphasize that not all teens with ADHD follow this path, just a higher percentage than those without ADHD. “We believe it is a combination of impulsive decision-making and perhaps the social strain that ADHD can place on the individual, who may feel unable to connect with peers in socially acceptable ways and therefore more vulnerable to trying other methods such as doing things peers dare them to do or that they view as ‘cool’ or ‘adult.’ ”

Elliott said the study does provide new insights into the relationship between ADHD and conduct disorder, but it sheds little light on whether treating ADHD might change the risk of starting to smoke or drink.

Survey Indicates Doctors Not Prepared For Prescription Stimulant Diversion

stimulantserAccording to the CDC, over 10 percent of children between the ages of 4 and 17 have been given the label as having Attention Dificit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and almost 70 percent of them are given medication. The prescription stimulants given to these kids can have a large array of side effects, including addiction.

A recent survey of more than 800 doctors who specialize in ADHD turned up some interesting results. For starters, nearly three quarters of the doctors said they received no training on the prevention of prescription drug diversion in medical school, and over half said they didn’t in their residency or fellowhip programs either.

At the same time, these doctors did feel that they saw patients who were trying to obtain prescriptions for stimulants for disingenuous reasons, ranging from wanting a study aid to weight loss and diversion.

The subject of prescription stimulant diversion and abuse continues to come up as the problems associated with the drugs and students seem to escalate. A prime example of this includes the fact that emergency room visits involved stimulants like these quadrupled in just six years, going from more than 5,500 in 2005 to well over 22,000 by 2011.

A recent story in the New York Times quoted Duke University psychologist and professor emeritus Dr. Keith Connors, who said, “The numbers make it look like an epidemic. Well, it’s not. It’s preposterous. This is a concoction to justify the giving out of medication at unprecedented and unjustifiable levels.”

While many people seem to think that giving away medications to people isn’t as bad as selling it to them, laws say otherwise. “In the eyes of the law, there is no difference between someone giving away a pill or selling one; they are both prosecuted as unlawful distribution of a controlled substance,” said Andrew Adesman, MD, senior investigator and chief of developmental behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York.

Many prescription drug abuse and recovery experts encourage parents to get second opinions regarding ADHD diagnoses and treatments, as over-prescribing continues to be a problem in America. Of course, if a young person truly does have a medical condition that needs to be address by a medication then it should be, but there also may be other doctors who have different options available. The more people become aware of the powerful side effects and abuse potential of various prescription drugs, the more they can avoid the potential problems associated with them.