Study Shows Link Between Stimulant Treatment and Lower Risk of Smoking in Teens with ADHD

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • In a previous post, Adult ADHD and Cigarette Smoking, I talked about how those with ADHD smoke more often than those without ADHD. Nicotine, the main ingredient in cigarettes, is a stimulant. It has been shown to increase attention and memory. It helps calm impulsivity. For some adults with ADHD, smoking cigarettes is a type of self-medicating. It provides the much needed calming much in the same way as stimulant medications do.

    We also know that cigarettes smoking is harmful and extremely addictive. Once you start, it is very difficult to stop. Because smoking often begins in adolescence, it is important to find ways to stop or slow down the rate that teens start smoking. Consistent and well-monitored treatment using stimulant medications, according to a recent study, might actually reduce the risk of smoking in adolescents.

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    Previous studies have come up with mixed results. Some show that stimulant medication lowers the risk of smoking while others showed that the medication actually increases the risk. The new study, published in the journal Pediatrics, looked at data from 14 published studies, involving over 2,300 participants. Of the participants, 1,424 were treated with ADHD medications and 936 were not.

    According to the researchers, treating adolescents with stimulant medication does not increase the risk of smoking. When treatment is consistent and well-monitored, the risk may decrease. The scientists indicate the data is not strong enough to identify a “casual relationship” but have stated that they note a link between cigarette smoking and treatment with stimulants. Further studies would need to be completed to determine the extent of the relationship between the two.

    The study found the effect of stimulant medication on smoking habits was more pronounced in girls than in boys and on casual, or occasional smokers. In addition, researchers noted that when treatment was consistent and well-monitored, the risk of smoking was lower than for those who received prescriptions without regular follow-up. This point is considered important because some people have criticized doctors who routinely write prescriptions for stimulant medication without insisting on regular follow-up visits.

    While the results of the study cannot definitively state that stimulant medication decreases the chances of smoking, it does show that the risk isn’t increased. It also emphasizes the need for consistent treatment

Published On: May 21, 2014