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. 2017 Sep 4;6:96-101.
doi: 10.1016/j.abrep.2017.08.005. eCollection 2017 Dec.

One-year Abstinence Improves ADHD Symptoms Among Patients With Polysubstance Use Disorder

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One-year Abstinence Improves ADHD Symptoms Among Patients With Polysubstance Use Disorder

Egon Hagen et al. Addict Behav Rep. .
Free PMC article


Introduction: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common comorbid disorder in patients suffering from substance use disorder (SUD). Individuals with co-occurring SUD and ADHD are more likely than SUD patients without ADHD to have developed SUD at a younger age, be polysubstance users, and need inpatient treatment more often. The present study investigates whether individuals with polysubstance use disorder who remain abstinent for a year after entering treatment have a more substantial reduction in ADHD symptoms than those who relapsed and controls.

Material and methods: Subjects were SUD patients (N = 115) and healthy controls (N = 34). ADHD symptoms were assessed using the adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS). Substance use was assessed by self-reports on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) and the Drug Use Disorders Identification Test (DUDIT). Participants were defined as having relapsed if they had an AUDIT score ≥ 8 or a DUDIT score ≥ 2 for women and ≥ 6 for men.

Results: Patients who remained abstinent for one year reported a substantial reduction of ADHD symptoms compared to patients who relapsed and controls.

Conclusions: Abstinence alleviates ADHD symptoms among patients with polysubstance use disorder. We suggest that confirmation of an ADHD diagnosis should follow a period of abstinence to avoid identification of false-positive cases.

Keywords: ADHD; ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; ANOVA, analysis of variance; ASRS, ADHD Self-Report Scale; AUDIT, Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test; DSM, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders; DUDIT, Drug Use Disorders Identification Test; GP, general practitioner; Polysubstance; REK, Regional Ethical Committee; Recovery; SUD, substance use disorder; Substance use disorder; WASI, Wechsler abbreviated scale of intelligence.


Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Mean ASRS sum score for each group at baseline and one-year follow up. Footnote: Changes in mean ASRS sum score from baseline to one-year for each group. Standard deviation indicated by error bars.
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Mean frequency of severe ADHD symptoms (in total) for each group. Footnote: Changes in frequency of severe ADHD symptoms from baseline to one-year for each group.

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