A new study has found that boys and girls with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have differing vulnerabilities to substance misuse issues. Researchers discovered that young females with ADHD are more likely to develop such problems than their male counterparts.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Helsinki and the University of Jyväskylä, found that inattentiveness and hyperactivity tend to be more indicative of future alcohol misuse and illicit drug use amongst young females, than amongst young males.
1545 Finnish adolescents of 11 and 12 years were assessed for DSM-IV-based ADHD symptoms. The youngsters were assessed again at ages 14 and 17.5.
Although baseline ADHD symptoms were less common amongst girls, once conduct disorder and previous substance use had been accounted for, they were more predictive of substance misuse outcomes. Baseline ADHD symptoms in females were found to be significant predictors of substance misuse issues at age 14. By the age of 17.5, symptoms were predictive of alcohol misuse in both genders, but they were more indicative of frequent alcohol and drug misuse for girls.
“Inattentiveness and hyperactivity may be more predictive of alcohol use disorders and maladaptive patterns of alcohol and illicit drug use among girls than boys,” explained Dr Elina Sihvola of the University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital. “The importance of these behavioural symptoms should be assessed further in the community, as they could jeopardize adolescents’ successful transitioning into adult roles.”
10 June 2011