Dr. Timothy Wilens of the Massachusetts General Hospital Pediatric Psychopharmacology Unit and colleagues examined data from two previous studies -- one of boys, one of girls -- that analyzed the prevalence of a broad range of psychiatric and behavioral disorders in participants diagnosed during childhood with ADHD.
Among the ADHD participants, 32 percent developed some type of substance abuse, including cigarette smoking, during the follow-up period, while 25 percent of control participants had substance abuse problems.
The only additional diagnosis that had an effect was conduct disorder, which tripled the risk when combined with ADHD.
"Overall, study participants diagnosed with ADHD had a one and a half times greater risk of developing substance abuse than did control participants," Wilens says in a statement. "Anyone with ADHD needs to be counseled about the risk for substance abuse, particularly if they have any delinquency."
The findings are published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.