Giving Ritalin or Adderall to ADHD Kids Actually Reduces the Odds of Later in Life Addiction

Strong stimulant medications used in the treatment of ADHD are controversial, and many parents worry about the long term effects of the drugs. While the issues surrounding the usage of medications such as Ritalin are many, parents can now know that medicated ADHD kids are far less likely to develop addictions later in life.

I’ve got two kids, and thankfully neither of them has ADHD, and if they did I know that I would agonize over whether to give them powerful stimulant drugs for symptoms control. I’m not an expert on the pharmacology of drugs such as Ritalin, and I can’t say conclusively whether these drugs do more good than harm…but at the very least, in the area of substance abuse, the research is now overwhelmingly clear that medicated ADHD sufferers are far less likely to develop substance abuse and dependency problems later in life.

Clinical studies funded out of the National Institute for Drug Addiction (NIDA) have pretty conclusively shown that ADHD patients given stimulant medications for symptoms control end up developing far fewer problems with addiction and substance use than unmedicated sufferers. Unmedicated ADHD teens use drugs earlier and they use them more often; and they may even be using stimulant style drugs such as crystal meth and cocaine or crack for symptoms relief as self medication.

The issue is pretty serious, and with estimates placing as many as 30% of all drug or alcohol dependent people as ADHD sufferers (lower estimates report a still greatly over represented 10%) the need to minimize the risks to abuse for this group of people is substantial. A lot of parents worry that giving strong stimulant style medications such as Ritalin to their kids may be increasing their vulnerability to addiction later in life, and it seems that the opposite is in fact true, and that by not medicating these kids the risks of drug and alcohol abuse go up. I’m thankful I don’t need to make the decision, and the issue is unfortunately more complex than the simple consideration of substance abuse later in life; but at the very least, parents should be aware that medications such as Ritalin do seem to decrease the risks of later addiction.

Deciding when and how much medication to give to our kids is never easy, and all we can hope to do is get informed and make the best decision we can with the interest of our children at heart.

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Strong stimulant medications used in the treatment of ADHD are controversial, and many parents worry about the long term effects of the drugs. While the issues surrounding the usage of medications such as Ritalin are many, parents can now know that medicated ADHD kids are far less likely to develop addictions later in life.

I’ve got two kids, and thankfully neither of them has ADHD, and if they did I know that I would agonize over whether to give them powerful stimulant drugs for symptoms control. I’m not an expert on the pharmacology of drugs such as Ritalin, and I can’t say conclusively whether these drugs do more good than harm…but at the very least, in the area of substance abuse, the research is now overwhelmingly clear that medicated ADHD sufferers are far less likely to develop substance abuse and dependency problems later in life.

Clinical studies funded out of the National Institute for Drug Addiction (NIDA) have pretty conclusively shown that ADHD patients given stimulant medications for symptoms control end up developing far fewer problems with addiction and substance use than unmedicated sufferers. Unmedicated ADHD teens use drugs earlier and they use them more often; and they may even be using stimulant style drugs such as crystal meth and cocaine or crack for symptoms relief as self medication.

The issue is pretty serious, and with estimates placing as many as 30% of all drug or alcohol dependent people as ADHD sufferers (lower estimates report a still greatly over represented 10%) the need to minimize the risks to abuse for this group of people is substantial. A lot of parents worry that giving strong stimulant style medications such as Ritalin to their kids may be increasing their vulnerability to addiction later in life, and it seems that the opposite is in fact true, and that by not medicating these kids the risks of drug and alcohol abuse go up. I’m thankful I don’t need to make the decision, and the issue is unfortunately more complex than the simple consideration of substance abuse later in life; but at the very least, parents should be aware that medications such as Ritalin do seem to decrease the risks of later addiction.

Deciding when and how much medication to give to our kids is never easy, and all we can hope to do is get informed and make the best decision we can with the interest of our children at heart.

Post traumatic stress disorder, addiction, and the war in Iraq

The incidence rates of post traumatic stress disorder in returning combat soldiers are about 30%. Since PTSD greatly increases the likelihood of drug abuse and addiction, we need to be ready to support returning soldiers with the respect and treatment they deserve.

Post traumatic stress disorder is a mental disorder that affects people who have been exposed to a terrifying and perceived life threatening situation. While the threat to life is usually a threat to the PTSD sufferer’s life, the threat to another (spouse, child or friend) can also induce symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. Violent crime, rape and other traumas can all induce PTSD, as can terrorist attacks such as Sep 11; but at greatest risk of PTSD are soldiers who have faced combat, and it is estimated that about 30% of all combat soldiers will suffer the effects of PTSD to some degree. The symptoms of PTSD are anxiety, recurring nightmares, flashbacks, sleep disorders, an inability to enjoy life and sometimes even irritability or feelings of aggression. The symptoms of PTSD generally occur within a month of exposure to a life threatening trauma, but may not occur for many months or even years after the event. To be diagnosed as a stress disorder, the symptoms must present for more than one month. A presentation of PTSD greatly increases the likelihood of substance abuse and dependence, and trauma survivors often use escape into alcohol or other dugs to minimize the symptoms of the disorder. Ultimately though, substance abuse exacerbates the anxiety and other symptoms associated with the disorder, and greatly lengthens the recovery process. Addictions professionals used to regard the dual problems of addiction and PTSD and separate and distance entities that required distinct treatments; and prevailing wisdom called for the addiction to be treated first, and to wait for a bettering of drug taking behaviors before tackling the PTSD. With a greater understanding of the disorder, and after witnessing appalling recidivism rates, it is now generally accepted that treatment for the two conditions must be integrated and comprehensive for any bettering of dual addiction and stress disorder symptoms. Therapeutic approaches to the treatment of a dual diagnosis of addiction and PTSD are cognitive therapy, peer group therapy with other PTSD sufferers, private counseling and pharmacological treatment of the symptoms of PTSD. Anti depressants and anxiolitics can be very effective when targeted against the symptoms expression of PTSD. I count myself lucky that I’ve never been subject to any life threatening trauma or violent attack; and while I’ve never served in the armed forces, when I hear the soldier’s accounts of their daily experiences in Iraq, I cannot imagine a more terrifying and stressful period of life than that endured by our soldiers patrolling the hostile and dangerous streets of Baghdad and other cities. We need to be therapeutically ready for a massive increase in substance abuse and destructive behaviors amongst soldiers returning from combat zones, and we need to have necessary access to treatment at the ready for those soldiers that need help overcoming the legacy of combat. Regardless of your views on the legitimacy of the war, the soldiers had no say in the political machinations that led to combat, and they deserve our respect and our compassionate treatment once returned home.

The incidence rates of post traumatic stress disorder in returning combat soldiers are about 30%. Since PTSD greatly increases the likelihood of drug abuse and addiction, we need to be ready to support returning soldiers with the respect and treatment they deserve.

Post traumatic stress disorder is a mental disorder that affects people who have been exposed to a terrifying and perceived life threatening situation. While the threat to life is usually a threat to the PTSD sufferer’s life, the threat to another (spouse, child or friend) can also induce symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. Violent crime, rape and other traumas can all induce PTSD, as can terrorist attacks such as Sep 11; but at greatest risk of PTSD are soldiers who have faced combat, and it is estimated that about 30% of all combat soldiers will suffer the effects of PTSD to some degree. The symptoms of PTSD are anxiety, recurring nightmares, flashbacks, sleep disorders, an inability to enjoy life and sometimes even irritability or feelings of aggression. The symptoms of PTSD generally occur within a month of exposure to a life threatening trauma, but may not occur for many months or even years after the event. To be diagnosed as a stress disorder, the symptoms must present for more than one month. A presentation of PTSD greatly increases the likelihood of substance abuse and dependence, and trauma survivors often use escape into alcohol or other dugs to minimize the symptoms of the disorder. Ultimately though, substance abuse exacerbates the anxiety and other symptoms associated with the disorder, and greatly lengthens the recovery process. Addictions professionals used to regard the dual problems of addiction and PTSD and separate and distance entities that required distinct treatments; and prevailing wisdom called for the addiction to be treated first, and to wait for a bettering of drug taking behaviors before tackling the PTSD. With a greater understanding of the disorder, and after witnessing appalling recidivism rates, it is now generally accepted that treatment for the two conditions must be integrated and comprehensive for any bettering of dual addiction and stress disorder symptoms. Therapeutic approaches to the treatment of a dual diagnosis of addiction and PTSD are cognitive therapy, peer group therapy with other PTSD sufferers, private counseling and pharmacological treatment of the symptoms of PTSD. Anti depressants and anxiolitics can be very effective when targeted against the symptoms expression of PTSD. I count myself lucky that I’ve never been subject to any life threatening trauma or violent attack; and while I’ve never served in the armed forces, when I hear the soldier’s accounts of their daily experiences in Iraq, I cannot imagine a more terrifying and stressful period of life than that endured by our soldiers patrolling the hostile and dangerous streets of Baghdad and other cities. We need to be therapeutically ready for a massive increase in substance abuse and destructive behaviors amongst soldiers returning from combat zones, and we need to have necessary access to treatment at the ready for those soldiers that need help overcoming the legacy of combat. Regardless of your views on the legitimacy of the war, the soldiers had no say in the political machinations that led to combat, and they deserve our respect and our compassionate treatment once returned home.