BMC Psychiatry | 2021
Naturalistic exploratory study of the associations of substance use on ADHD outcomes and function
Background Although Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is associated with an increased risk of substance use disorder (SUD), existing literature on how SUD interacts with ADHD outcomes is limited. This study investigates whether SUD among individuals with ADHD is associated with worse ADHD outcomes and prognosis, and the association between overall functioning and SUD. In addition, we seek to understand whether heavy cannabis use is a better predictor of poorer outcomes compared to SUD status alone. Method We conducted a retrospective analysis on 50 ADHD patient charts, which were allocated based on SUD status. Subgroup analysis was performed on the total sample population, with allocation based on heavy cannabis use. Mann-Whitney and Chi-Square tests were used for both the primary and subgroup analyses. Results SUD status highly correlated with more ADHD-related cognitive impairments and poorer functional outcomes at the time of diagnosis. ADHD patients with comorbid ADHD-SUD scored significantly lower ( p \xa0=\u2009<\u20090.0001) on objective cognitive testing (Integrated Auditory and Visual Continuous Performance Test (IVA/CPT)) than ADHD patients without SUD. The correlation with poorer ADHD outcomes was more pronounced when groups were allocated based on heavy cannabis use status; in addition to significantly lower IVA/CPT scores ( p \xa0=\u20090.0011), heavy cannabis use was associated with more severe fine motor hyperactivity and self-reported hyperactivity/impulsivity scores ( p \xa0=\u20090.0088 and 0.0172, respectively). Conclusion Future research is needed to determine how substance abuse can be a barrier to improved ADHD outcomes, and the effect cannabis and other substances have on cognitive function and pharmacotherapy of ADHD.