BACKGROUND: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is associated with substance use disorders (SUD; alcohol and/or drug dependence) and nicotine dependence. This study aims to advance our knowledge about the association between SUD, nicotine dependence, and the course of ADHD (persistent versus remittent ADHD and late-onset ADHD).
METHODS: ADHD, SUD, and nicotine dependence were longitudinally assessed (mean age at study entry 11.3 years, mean age at follow-up 21.1 years) using structured psychiatric interviews and multi-informant questionnaires in a subsample of the Dutch part of the International Multicenter ADHD Genetics study. Individuals with persistent ADHD (n = 62), remittent ADHD (n = 12), late-onset ADHD (n = 18; age of onset after 12 years), unaffected siblings (n = 50), and healthy controls (n = 47) were assessed. Hazard ratios (HR) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated by Cox regression and adjusted for clustered family data, gender, follow-up length, and current age.
RESULTS: Individuals with persistent ADHD were at significantly higher risk of development of SUD relative to healthy controls (HR = 4.56, CI 1.17-17.81). In contrast, levels of SUD in those with remittent ADHD were not different from healthy controls (HR = 1.00, CI .07-13.02). ADHD persisters had also higher prevalence rates of nicotine dependence (24.2%) than ADHD remitters (16.7%) and healthy controls (4.3%). A similar pattern was found in initially unaffected siblings who met ADHD criteria at follow-up ("late-onset" ADHD); they had also a higher prevalence of SUD (33%) compared to stable unaffected siblings (20%) and were at significantly increased risk of development of nicotine dependence compared to healthy controls (HR = 13.04, CI 2.08-81.83).
CONCLUSIONS: SUD and nicotine dependence are associated with a negative ADHD outcome. Results further emphasize the need for clinicians to comprehensively assess substance use when diagnosing ADHD in adolescents and adults.
- Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity/complications
- Longitudinal Studies
- Risk Factors
- Substance-Related Disorders/complications
- Tobacco Use Disorder/complications
- Young Adult