Attention deficiency intensifies tobacco addictionOctober 22nd, 2008 - 1:02 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, Oct 22 (IANS) Young people with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are not only at greater risk of smoking, but tend to become more seriously addicted to tobacco, according to a new study. Researchers found that individuals with more ADHD-related symptoms, even those who don’t have the full syndrome, are at greater risk of becoming dependent on nicotine than those with fewer symptoms.
ADHD is a developmental disorder affecting about three to five percent of the global population. It is typically present during childhood, characterised by a pattern of impulsiveness and inattention, with or without hyperactivity.
“Knowing that ADHD increases the risk of more serious nicotine addiction stresses the importance of prevention efforts aimed at adolescents and their families,” said Timothy Wilens, director of the Substance Abuse Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), who led the study.
Several studies have shown young people with ADHD are more like to smoke and to start smoking at an earlier age. The current investigation was designed to examine whether ADHD also increases the severity of nicotine dependence.
Participants were taken from two long-term studies - one in boys and the other in girls - that analysed a variety of factors in children and adolescents with ADHD compared with a matched control group.
Participants completed a standardised questionnaire evaluating smoking history and levels of tobacco dependence in current smokers. Responses from 80 participants with ADHD and 86 controls, all ranging from age 15 to 25, were available for analysis.
While 69 percent of participants with ADHD had ever smoked and 41 percent were current smokers, only 44 percent of controls had ever smoked, with 17 percent currently smoking, according to an MGH statement. The report appeared in the Journal of Paediatrics.
Smokers with ADHD began using tobacco about a year and a half sooner than did control group members, and moderate or higher levels of nicotine dependence were reported by 21 percent of AHDH participants but less than one percent of controls.
The study’s findings also suggest biological mechanisms that may underlie both ADHD and nicotine dependence.