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Ritalin Successfully Treats ADHD in People with Substance Dependence: Study

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A new study finds Ritalin can successfully treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in people with substance dependence. People with both conditions often do not respond well to ADHD medication, according to MedicalXpress.

The study by Swedish researchers finds ADHD treatment in people with substance dependence works well if Ritalin is administered in higher doses. The drug, methylphenidate, is also sold under several other brand names, including Concerta.

ADHD is much more common in people with substance dependence issues than in the population at large, the article notes. It is possible that standard doses of methylphenidate are not effective in people with both ADHD and long-standing substance dependence because they have developed a tolerance to the drugs, the researchers said.

In the study, researchers studied the effect of the medication on 54 prison inmates who had ADHD and dependence on amphetamines. One group of prisoners was given a placebo, while the other group was given up to double the dose of methylphenidate used in previous studies. The study lasted for 24 weeks. Prisoners given the drug had fewer relapses into drug use, fewer symptoms of ADHD, and adhered to their treatment regimen for longer, compared with prisoners given a placebo.

“We’ve shown for the first time that ADHD in these patients is treatable,” lead author Dr Maija Konstenius of the Karolinska Institute said in a news release. “Moreover, the treatment led to fewer relapses to drug use, which is a very significant finding since a return to crime is often linked to drug abuse in this group.”

The findings are published in the journal Addiction.

2 Responses to this article

  1. Connie / October 18, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    Wow, that’s bizarre!

    My daughter was prescribed Ritalan and later told me that it was her introduction to “speed.” She said she snorted it the whole time and just loved having a prescription for her drug of choice (at the time). She progressed on to a full blown meth addiction.

    I’d say this study is seriously flawed.

  2. Richard Solomon, PhD / October 18, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    It is significant that the people treated were in prison. Ie, a highly controlled environment where the likelihood of abuse of the Ritalin is greatly diminished. While I agree that Ritalin might be successful in treating people with co-occurring disorders like these, the risk of abuse and/or a relapse back into other drug abuse cannot be underestimated in people who are being treated in the community. Any treatment team attempting to do this on an outpatient basis should take EXTREME caution in their practices with this population.

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