Medication Can Reduce Risky Behavior in Kids and Teens with ADHD

MARCH 20, 2017
Ryan Marotta, Assistant Editor
Although children and teenagers who are diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as dangerous driving and drug use, a recent study has suggested that the use of ADHD medications could help prevent these behaviors.
The study, published in Labour Economics, evaluated data on nearly 150,000 children diagnosed with ADHD between 2003 and 2013 to determine the effects of medication on young ADHD patients’ behavior.
“ADHD is such a major issue, but no one seemed to be able to give a very definite answer to the long-term effect of the medication,” said study author Anna Chorniy, PhD, in a press release. “For our sample population, we were able to see everyone who had an ADHD diagnosis and track their health over time to identify any potential benefits of the medication or the lack of thereof.”
The research team found that, compared with children who were diagnosed with ADHD but were not pharmacologically treated, those who received medication were 3.6 percentage points less likely to contract a sexually transmitted disease, 7.3 percentage points less likely to have a substance-abuse disorder, and 2.3 percentage points less likely to be injured. In a sample of about 14,000 teens diagnosed with ADHD, this translated into 512 fewer teens contracting an STD, 998 fewer having a substance abuse disorder, and 6122 fewer yearly injuries.
The study authors plan to follow up on their research by further examining the benefits and increased use of ADHD medications.