Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and substance use disorders: is there a causal link?



Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), characterized by restless, inattentive and hyperactive behaviours, is a relatively common childhood disorder that affects approximately 5% of the general population. There has been controversy about whether ADHD increases risks of developing substance use disorders. The available evidence suggests that, in the absence of conduct disorder, ADHD is not associated with an increased risk of substance use problems in males. There is only limited evidence on the role of ADHD in the aetiology of substance use disorders among females. While ADHD has traditionally been considered as a childhood disorder, it may also occur in adults; research needs to examine the extent to which ADHD in adulthood increases the risk of substance use disorders.