There is a growing trend of using energy drinks and caffeinated beverages to improve cognitive performance that is widespread and well-studied among children and teenagers with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), but little is known about adult ADHD (A-ADHD). As a consequence, the use of highly caffeinated drinks and their impact on ADHD symptoms are poorly understood. This is especially true in populations where A-ADHD and the use of these beverages are largely represented, such as in military samples. From the All Army Study (AAS) of the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Service members (STARRS) data, 1,239 A-ADHD soldiers and 17,674 peers without any psychiatric comorbidity were selected. The two groups were compared on: (1) the presence of substance use disorder (SUD) diagnosis both over their lifetime and in the previous 30 days; (2) patterns of alcohol and caffeine use using chi-square analyses. Lastly, the relationship between substance use and severity of A-ADHD symptoms was assessed using Pearson's correlations. Soldiers with a diagnosis of A-ADHD had a higher prevalence of SUD diagnosis compared to their peers without psychiatric comorbidity. They also tended to use more alcohol, caffeine pills, energy drinks, and other caffeinated drinks. Alcohol use was positively correlated with A-ADHD symptoms; on the contrary, energy drinks, caffeine pills and other caffeinated drinks showed negative correlations with some aspects of A-ADHD symptomatology. The use of caffeinated compounds appears to be increased among military soldiers with ADHD, and they may help reducing A-ADHD symptoms and improve cognitive performance. These results suggest a possible role for caffeine as a potential pharmacological tool in the treatment of adult ADHD.
Keywords: ADHD symptomatology; Adult-Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (A-ADHD); Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD); United State (US) Army; caffeine.