Public Release: 

Study links ADHD, conduct disorder with alcohol and tobacco use in young teens

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

A new study links ADHD and conduct disorder in young adolescents with increased alcohol and tobacco use. The Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center study is among the first to assess such an association in this age group.

Conduct disorder is a behavioral and emotional disorder marked by aggressive, destructive or deceitful behavior.

The study is published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

"Early onset of substance abuse is a significant public health concern," says William Brinkman, MD, a pediatrician at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center 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. This is why prevention is so important."

Dr. Brinkman and his colleagues studied data on more than 2,500 teens between the ages of 12 and 15. The data came from the 2000-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which is a nationally representative sample of the United State population designed to collect information about health.

Teens with a diagnosis of ADHD and conduct disorder had a three- to five-times increased likelihood of using tobacco and alcohol and initiated use at a younger age than those who had neither disorder. Having ADHD alone was associated with an increased likelihood of tobacco use but not alcohol use.

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The researchers were supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (K23MH083027), (K24MH064478), and (K23MH083881).

About Cincinnati Children's

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center ranks third in the nation among all Honor Roll hospitals in U.S.News and World Report's 2014 Best Children's Hospitals. It is also ranked in the top 10 for all 10 pediatric specialties. Cincinnati Children's, a non-profit organization, is one of the top three recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health, and a research and teaching affiliate of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. The medical center is internationally recognized for improving child health and transforming delivery of care through fully integrated, globally recognized research, education and innovation. Additional information can be found at http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org. Connect on the Cincinnati Children's blog, via Facebook and on Twitter.

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