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Future Addiction Help Likely for Kids Over Eight Who Go on Ritalin

I read two articles about the same subject today – both promoted the idea that ADHD drugs don’t add up to the need for addiction help. One was entitled “ADHD drugs not linked to future drug abuse,” and the other was “Without Substance: ADHD meds don’t up kids’ drug abuse risk.” I found the articles interesting. The headlines would make you think that ADHD drugs are safe – except that both articles say that if you start taking ADHD drugs at the ripe old age of, say, eight, you may be at higher risk. My bet is that if you start taking them at age 12, it’s worse. But I haven’t read the studies yet. The other thing the headlines don’t say is that 44% of kids who started taking Ritalin after age eight had substance abuse problems. I would guess they needed or, perhaps, still need addiction help as well.

The studies were reported in the May issue of the American Journal Of Psychiatry. Psychologist Salvatore Mannuzza concluded that the 44% have other problems that caused the drug abuse – that the drugs (Ritalin or Adderall) were not the problem.

However, his quote shows that his ideas are speculative: “These volunteers likely became adult abusers because of this condition, not because of stimulant treatment as children.” This sounds like a conclusion based on opinion – not really very scientific. Also the study was started 17 years ago, long before the problem of prescription drug abuse became the problem it is today. There are millions of kids on Ritalin and Adderall – let’s hope 44% don’t need addiction help services.

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