Drug use and psychosocial functioning of a community-derived sample of adolescents with childhood ADHD

George M. Realmuto, Ken C. Winters, Gerald J. August, Susanne Lee, Tamara Fahnhorst, Andria Botzet

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11 Scopus citations


We describe the late adolescent psychosocial outcomes from a relatively large, community-identified sample of children with ADHD who have been assessed longitudinally from childhood through late adolescence. A range of outcomes were compared between ADHD (n=119) and normal control (n=93) groups, as well as ADHD subgroups that varied as a function of the course of externalizing predominantly ODD problems (persisters, desisters, escalaters, and resisters). ADHD youths that did not show externalizing problems during childhood (ADHD resisters) were associated with drug use outcomes generally comparable to the normal non-affected controls. All other ADHD groups with externalizing problems (ADHD persisters, ADHD escalaters, and ADHD desisters) consistently revealed worse drug use outcomes compared to controls/ADHD resisters. However, ADHD youths with or without externalizing problems showed worse outcomes compared to the control group on the non-drug, psychosocial functioning variables. The study highlights that ADHD with coexisting disruptiveness, whether the disruptiveness persists or remits before adolescence, is associated with an increased risk for drug involvement and that ADHD, regardless of the comorbid pattern, confers a poorer level of psychosocial functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)172-192
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2009

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2009 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • ADHD
  • Adolescence
  • Psychosocial functioning


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