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Childhood ADHD and Substance Use

The Center of Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders (CAS) at Rutgers University is pleased to share the work of one of our (TRACC) alumni, Mariely Hernandez, PhD, and one of our mentors and co-investigators, Frances Levin, MD. Hernandez, and Levin are now at Columbia University, where they have recently published a paper, as described in the September 15 issue of the Department of Psychiatry newsletter:

Childhood ADHD is a widely identified risk factor for substance use and its associated problems. Adolescents and adults with the disorder are nearly eight times more likely to use cannabis compared to those who do not have ADHD, which puts them at high risk for developing a cannabis use disorder. In this review article, Mariely Hernandez, postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Psychiatry, and Frances R. Levin, MD, the Kennedy-Leavy Professor of Psychiatry and the chief of the Division on Substance Use Disorders at Columbia/NYSPI, discuss the problems, such as physical pain and sleep disturbances, that prompt people with ADHD to turn to cannabis for relief. The authors also raise clinical concerns as more states decriminalize cannabis and cannabis-derived products for recreational use, encouraging practitioners to probe patients about motivations for cannabis use. Problems (such as sleep disturbances) may be more effectively treated by pharmacologic or behavioral interventions, which can be part of a treatment plan alongside reducing cannabis use.

Hernández, M., & Levin, F. R. (2022). Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and therapeutic cannabis use motives Psychiatric Clinics, 45(3), 503-514.