Skip the Smokes But Pass My Meds

ADHD treated with stimulants linked to lower smoking rates in those with ADHD

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) The most common medications used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are stimulants. Tobacco is also a stimulant, so would taking medication reduce smoking among those with ADHD?

A recent study found that to be the case. Those with ADHD who took stimulant medications were less likely to smoke than those with untreated ADHD.

It's not clear, though, if taking medication was the reason that those people with ADHD didn't smoke.

It's possible that there were other differences among those who did and didn't take ADHD medications that was related to whether they smoked or not.

"Discuss ADHD treatment options with your doctor."

The study, led by Erin Schoenfelder, PhD, of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University's School of Medicine in North Carolina, looked at the relationship between ADHD medications and individuals' cigarette smoking habits.

The researchers looked for all previously published studies related to cigarette smoking and ADHD, including untreated and stimulant-medication-treated ADHD.

Out of the 17 studies meeting the researchers' criteria, 14 studies involving 2,360 participants had enough data to be analyzed together.

The researchers compared the proportion of smokers among those with untreated ADHD to the proportion of smokers among those who were taking stimulants for ADHD.

The researchers also made calculations to take into account the differences between the studies and among the studies' participants as much as possible.

The results revealed that those whose ADHD was treated with stimulants had lower smoking rates than those with untreated ADHD.

The reduction in smoking rates was most pronounced in those studies that included more females, looked at long-term use of stimulants, took into account other health conditions and measured smoking rates when the participants were teens instead of adults.

Because the studies were all based on long-term observation data, the researchers could not determine whether taking or not taking medication caused the participants to smoke or not smoke.

It also was not possible to investigate the possible influences of other health conditions or differences among the participants from all the studies at once since they differed too much.

There also was not enough data to determine the effectiveness of the stimulant medications that treated ADHD participants took.

However, the researchers' findings did show a reduced risk of smoking among those with ADHD who took stimulant medications, especially if their ADHD was more severe.

The study was published May 12 in the journal Pediatrics. The research was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Two of the three authors have received consulting or advisory board fees, research support and/or travel funding from about a dozen pharmaceutical companies. One also works at an institution currently seeking a patent for an ADHD treatment and receives royalties from books related to children's mental health.

Review Date: 
May 11, 2014
Last Updated:
May 12, 2014