Long-Term ADHD Stimulant Use Linked to Opioid Use

People with ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) that have taken stimulant medications for a long time also have a higher likelihood of being on an opioid for the long term.

Researchers looked at a sample of more than 66,000 Medicaid enrollees diagnosed with ADHD. About one-third of those adults – 21,723 — were on a stimulant medication. Of those on a stimulant, 16.5% were also long-term users of an opioid, according to results published in JAMA Network Open.

Researchers noted that concurrent use of stimulants and opioids is a concern because people with ADHD are at an elevated risk of developing prescription drug abuse.

Long-term opioid use was more common in adults with ADHD who used stimulants compared to those who didn’t. Long-term stimulant-opioid use was more common in older individuals, Caucasians and those with a pain, anxiety disorder or substance abuse diagnosis.

“Our study contributes to the understanding of the potential risk factors associated with long-term concurrent stimulant-opioid use among adults with ADHD,” the researchers wrote. “Identifying these high-risk patients allows for early intervention and may reduce the number of adverse events associated with the long-term use of these medications.”

Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block is a freelance writer and former MedShadow content editor. He has been an editor and writer for multiple pharmaceutical, health and medical publications, including BioCentury, The Pink Sheet, Modern Healthcare, Health Plan Week and Psychiatry Advisor. He holds a BA from Tufts University and is earning an MPH with a focus on health policy from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.

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