The aim of the study was to test the self-medication hypothesis by examining the effects of nicotine in the everyday lives of smokers and nonsmokers with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Fifty-two adults with ADHD (25 abstinent smokers and 27 nonsmokers) participated in a double-blind placebo controlled study with one nicotine patch condition and one placebo patch condition in counterbalanced order. Each condition continued for two consecutive days in which patches were administered each morning. The effects of nicotine on ADHD symptoms, moods, and side effects were assessed with electronic diaries. Cardiovascular activity was recorded with ambulatory blood pressure monitors and physical activity was monitored with actigraphs. Nicotine reduced reports of ADHD symptoms by 8% and negative moods by 9%, independent of smoking status. In addition, nicotine increased cardiovascular activity during the first 3 to 6 hours after nicotine patch administration. The results support the self-medication hypothesis for nicotine in adults with ADHD and suggest that smoking cessation and prevention efforts for individuals with ADHD will need to address both the symptom reducing and mood enhancing effects of nicotine.
Copyright 2009 APA