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Young ADHD Patients More Susceptible to Nicotine Addiction

December 13, 2019

Results of a Duke Health study point to the importance of speaking with young people who have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) about the greater danger of their experiencing nicotine addiction.

A study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology states that young adults ages 18 to 25 with ADHD were more likely than non-ADHD subjects to self-administer nicotine regardless of study condition. Sessions following three orientation sessions in the study exposed individuals to either a relaxed environment or a problem-solving scenario; participants were asked to choose either a nicotine spray or a non-nicotine placebo in these sessions.

“We found that regardless of demand conditions, the people with ADHD chose the spray with nicotine,” said lead study author Scott Kollins, PhD, professor in the Duke University School of Medicine's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. “Meanwhile, the people who did not have ADHD chose nicotine more often when they had to work on the cognitively challenging math problems.”

The researchers stated that they were not surprised about the extent to which the participants with ADHD gravitated to nicotine, given that nicotine affects brain physiology that is implicated in ADHD.

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