Substance Abuse Risk in ADHD Relatives May be Genetic

Substance abuse and ADHD may share a genetic component — and relatives of ADHD patients may be at risk.

A new study indicates that relatives of ADHD patients may be at higher risk for substance abuse — possibly due to shared genetic factors between the disorders.

The study, conducted by the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, found that first-degree relatives of ADHDers had an increased risk of substance abuse — even when controlling for other factors like coexisting psychiatric disorders.

ADHDers themselves were much more likely to have suffered from substance abuse, as the researchers expected.

Surprisingly, however, the first-degree relatives were at a significantly higher risk for substance abuse than the control group — even when disorders like depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder were taken into account. The research suggests that if the genetic overlap between ADHD and substance abuse can be more fully understood,
those who are at a higher risk for substance abuse can be identified — and treated — earlier.

A better understanding of the genetic overlap between ADHD and substance abuse may lead to wider acceptance of the two as real medical disorders — positive news for ADHDers and addicts alike who are tired of hearing that they lack willpower.

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