In one of the first studies to look at alcohol and tobacco use in young teens, ages 12 to 15, with ADHD and conduct disorder, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center researchers found increased use.
"Early onset of substance abuse is a significant public health concern," says William Brinkman, MD, a pediatrician at Children's and the study's lead author.
"Adolescents who use substances before the mid-teen years are more likely to develop dependence on them than those who start later, that's why prevention is so important," Brinkman says.
Teens who had been diagnosed with ADHD and conduct disorder (aggressive, destructive or deceitful behavior) had a three to five times increased likelihood of using tobacco and alcohol and started using it younger than people who didn't have ADHD or conduct disorder.
Dr. Brinkman studied 2,500 teens from the 2000 and 2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a nationally representative sample of the United States population designed to collect information about health.
Having ADHD along was associated with an increased likelihood of tobacco use but not alcohol use.