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With the influx of prescriptions of ADHD medications, more and more parents become worried about the potential future side effects that these medicines may cause. In the parents’ minds, this medication may seem like a gateway drug. With others, it may seem abusive and unnatural to give your children these medications. Researchers have done many studies on the effects of these drugs on kids to help educate the public. These studies followed these children throughout their lives, and they yielded surprising and important results that will help us understand these medications’ effects on children. This article will cover:
So, let’s find out: do children treated with stimulants grow up to become addicts?
Before we look at the relationship between stimulant medication and addiction, it is important to understand what causes addiction in the first place. Addictions usually take place after a person has voluntarily committed to using a substance. After a while, the user will develop symptoms when they stop using the drug. These symptoms are known as “withdrawals.” After a bit of time, an addict may need a drug to feel “normal,” or, in other words, stave off the symptoms of withdrawal. When this happens, the addict can fall into a more and more degenerative spiral towards addiction, as they will need more and more drugs to stave off the withdrawals. Eventually, an addict may overdose or end up in a stimulant treatment program—unless someone steps in to help them.
Many do not realize that ADHD has an interesting relationship with addiction that makes this area very worrying for most parents. Because ADHD causes problems with impulsivity, the relationship between addiction and ADHD is strong.
Many may cite that they use drugs to control their behavior, while others may pin it on their addictive and compulsive personality. Whatever the reason provided, the feelings rooted and associated with addiction go deep within the minds of those with ADHD. However, this does not necessarily mean that the child will get addicted to behavioral medication simply because it is a drug.
Researchers have found the connection between ADHD and addiction mostly in circumstances where the illicit drugs were expressly illicit. In other words, the fact that the substances were not good triggers impulsive reactions within someone’s brain. These reactions can trigger an over-valued emotion towards the drugs, deepening the now addict’s relationship with the drug. Some of the most common symptoms of ADHD include:
Even so, children will not see this medication as an illicit substance if framed correctly. In a lot of situations, these children have no idea what the drugs do at the ages at which their doctor prescribes them. There is no implicit value tied to them as there is with adults. Furthermore, there is no monetary gain, as these children do not know the idea of trading drugs. As such, there is no taboo tied to the medication and no impulsivity to exploit.
While rare, it is worth noting that hereditary, alongside ADHD as a factor in addiction, can also contribute to this behavior. While addiction is still a learned behavior that takes a lot of time to condition into someone’s daily routine, hereditary forces can still drive someone to take the first step towards drug addiction. When it comes to this, the only way to prevent someone from becoming addicted to these substances is through education. If you are experiencing this, there are a few things you should teach to try and prevent them from traveling down this path:
Having this talk with them about the future ramifications of taking this path can help your child fully realize the precarious situation they’re already in and help them keep on the path of health and wellness.
One of the best ways that you can prevent your child from becoming addicted to these medications is by having a conversation that addresses how they should think of and treat the medication. This will help them understand what they are for, how they should use them, and the other boundaries you should have in place. Here are a few subjects that you need to cover:
We hope that this article has helped you understand whether or not children treated with stimulants will grow up to become addicts. Remember that it’s important to have an open and honest conversation about your intentions to treat your child in these situations. Even when they are young, they can understand what is going on and deserve to have you treat them with respect while administering this medication.
Chapman House is a California licensed residential substance abuse treatment facility licensed by the State Department of Health Care Services.