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Double-action drug: ADHD medication can also treat substance abuse

Double-action drug: ADHD medication can also treat substance abuse

Certain medications remain the mainstay to treat some mental disorders. Whether it is for depression, anxiety, psychosis or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the use of antidepressants or anti-anxiety pills works in most cases. Besides medication, psychotherapies and brain stimulation approaches also play a major role in treating mental disorders.

There are proven side effects of certain medications. However, not many have provided conclusive evidence against their benefits. Since people often get addicted to prescription painkillers in a bid to fix even the slightest of problems arising from everyday life, health care officials are engaged in finding alternate and more effective means to treat mental illnesses without causing dependence. The fear of being negatively affected by long-term use of medications drives many people away from seeking treatment.

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects nearly 5 percent children as estimated by the American Psychological Association (APA). The condition can be so debilitating that children or adults may indulge in substance use. A recent study has highlighted the impact of ADHD medication on the reducing the risk of substance abuse.

ADHD medication

According to the study conducted by the Indiana University researchers and published in the American Journal of Psychiatry on June 29, 2017, states that in spite of the common prevalence of alcohol and drug use among ADHD patients, the medication used for treating ADHD actually reduces the risk of substance use-related problems. The researchers analyzed data for the period of 2005-2014 involving commercial health claims from 2,993,887 adolescent and adult patients of ADHD. The conclusion was derived by calculating the likelihood of patients’ visit to the emergency room for substance use disorder (SUD) during the period when they were on medication in comparison to the period of abstinence.

The findings indicated that 57 percent of the participants experienced period of use and non-use of medication but only 2 percent of them went to the emergency room for substance abuse. Medications used were Adderall, an amphetamine, and Ritalin, or methylphenidate. Few doses of non-stimulant ADHD medication such as Strattera, or atomoxetine were also administered.

Lead author Patrick D. Quinn, postdoctoral researcher in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, said, “…this study provides further evidence that the use of these medications is not associated with increased risk of substance use problems in adolescence or adulthood. Rather, this and other recent studies find that the risk of such problems is lower during and after periods of use of these medications.”

Another related study that was published in the JAMA Network on June 1, 2017 clarified the positive effects of ADHD medication by stating that the rate of motor vehicle crashes (MVC) was lesser among patients when they used the medication. It was a large national cohort study of ADHD patients identified from medical health insurance claims between 2005 and 2014 and followed up for emergency department visits for MVCs.

These studies might give assurance to mental health experts who prescribe medications as well as to the patients and their caretakers about the benefits of using them under the supervision of a professional psychiatrist in order to attain long-term recovery.

Treatment for co-occurring disorders

Dual diagnosis is a condition when a mental disorder and substance use co-exist. In spite of the availability of effective treatment programs that are designed to tackle mental health disorders and substance abuse, many people refrain from seeking support and treatment due to the associated stigma and fear of being ostracized from the community. It is important to note that one condition can worsen by the occurrence of another. Therefore, specialized dual diagnosis care givers should assess the underlying signs and provide treatment for both the disorders. The first step to recovery is the will to get well.

The Florida Dual Diagnosis Helpline can provide you or your loved one with the information to better understand these conditions and connect you to the best rehab facilities in Florida. Call us on our 24/7 helpline number (866) 337-7631 or chat online with an advisor to know more about evidence-based dual diagnosis treatment centers in Florida.