Screening for adult attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder in high-dose benzodiazepine dependent patients

Am J Addict. 2017 Sep;26(6):610-614. doi: 10.1111/ajad.12573. Epub 2017 Jun 1.


Background and objectives: Adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is frequent in patients with substance use disorders (SUD), but information on its prevalence in high-dose benzodiazepine (BZD) dependence is lacking. We estimated the prevalence of adult ADHD in a group of treatment-seeking high-dose BZD dependent patients according to a valid screening tool, and explored the demographic and clinical characteristics of patients that screened positive for ADHD (ADHD+) in comparison to those that screened negative (ADHD-).

Methods: We prospectively recruited 167 consecutive patients with high-dose BZD dependence and screened them for adult ADHD with the World Health Organization Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale version 1.1 (ASRS-v1.1) Symptom Checklist Part A. We compared demographic and clinical characteristics in ADHD+ and ADHD- groups.

Results: Fifty-three patients (31.7% of the sample) were positive to adult ADHD screening. ADHD+ patients showed a significantly larger prevalence of poly-drug abuse than ADHD- ones. BZD formulation and active principle significantly differed between the two groups. The other clinical variables, including psychiatric comorbidity, as well as the demographic ones, did not differ in ADHD+ versus ADHD- comparison.

Discussion and conclusions: Adult ADHD may be common in treatment-seeking high-dose BZD dependent patients according to ASRS-v1.1 Symptom Checklist Part A.

Scientific significance: Screening for ADHD in this type of SUD with this questionnaire is quick and may offer useful information for prognosis and treatment. (Am J Addict 2017;26:610-614).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity* / diagnosis
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity* / epidemiology
  • Benzodiazepines / pharmacology*
  • Checklist / methods
  • Comorbidity
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Mental Status Schedule
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Selection
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Self Report
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Benzodiazepines