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Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Research-Based Guide

Does treatment of ADHD with stimulant medications like Ritalin® and Adderall® increase risk of substance abuse later in life?

Prescription stimulants are effective at treating attention disorders in children and adolescents, but concerns have been raised that they could make a young person more vulnerable to developing later substance use disorders. On balance, the studies conducted so far have found no differences in later substance use for ADHD-affected children who received treatment versus those that did not. This suggests that treatment with ADHD medication does not affect (either negatively or positively) an individual’s risk for developing a substance use disorder.39

This page was last updated January 2014

Does treatment of ADHD with stimulant medications like Ritalin® and Adderall® increase risk of substance abuse later in life?

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National Institute on Drug Abuse (2014). Does treatment of ADHD with stimulant medications like Ritalin® and Adderall® increase risk of substance abuse later in life?. In Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Research-Based Guide. Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-adolescent-substance-use-disorder-treatment-research-based-guide/frequently-asked-questions/does-treatment-adhd-stimulant-medications-ritalinr-adderallr-increase-risk-substance-abuse-later-in

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