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Adolescent Substance Use in the Multimodal Treatment Study of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (MTA) as a Function of Childhood ADHD, Random Assignment to Childhood Treatments, and Subsequent Medication

  • Author(s): Molina, Brooke S.G.
  • Hinshaw, Stephen P.
  • Arnold, L. Eugene
  • Swanson, James M.
  • Pelham, William E.
  • Hechtman, Lily
  • Hoza, Betsy
  • Epstein, Jeffery N.
  • Wigal, Timothy
  • Abikoff, Howard B.
  • Greenhill, Laurence L.
  • Jensen, Peter S.
  • Wells, Karen C.
  • Vitiello, Benedetto
  • Gibbons, Robert D.
  • Howard, Andrea
  • Houck, Patricia R.
  • Hur, Kwan
  • Lu, Bo
  • Marcus, Sue
  • et al.
Abstract

Objectives

To determine long-term effects on substance use and substance use disorder (SUD), up to 8 years after childhood enrollment, of the randomly assigned 14-month treatments in the multisite Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (MTA; n=436); to test whether (a) medication at follow-up, (b) cumulative psychostimulant treatment over time, or (c) both relate to substance use/SUD; to compare substance use/SUD in the ADHD sample to the non-ADHD childhood classmate comparison group (n=261).

Method

Mixed-effects regression models with planned contrasts were used for all tests except the important cumulative stimulant treatment question, for which propensity score matching analysis was used.

Results

The originally randomized treatment groups did not differ significantly on substance use/SUD by the 8 year follow-up or earlier (M age = 17 years). Neither medication at follow-up (mostly stimulants) nor cumulative stimulant treatment was associated with adolescent substance use/SUD. Substance use at all time points, including use of two or more substances and SUD, were each greater in the ADHD than non-ADHD samples, regardless of sex.

Conclusions

Medication for ADHD did not protect from, nor contribute to, visible risk of substance use or SUD by adolescence, whether analyzed as randomized treatment assignment in childhood, as medication at follow-up, or as cumulative stimulant treatment over an 8 year follow-up from childhood. These results suggest the need to identify alternative or adjunctive adolescent-focused approaches to substance abuse prevention and treatment for boys and girls with ADHD, especially given their increased risk for use and abuse of multiple substances that is not improved with stimulant medication. Clinical trial registration information—Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (MTA); http://clinical trials.gov/; NCT00000388.

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