Childhood psychiatric disorders linked to increased risk of adult addictions

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According to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP), there is a possible between childhood psychiatric disorders and increased risk of addictions in adult life.

Scientists, based on a large amount of data from previous studies, have identified a correlation between various psychiatric disorders among children and later risk of developing addictions. The study showed that individuals diagnosed in childhood with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)/conduct disorder (CD), and depression had an increased risk of developing addictions.

While scientists have been aware of how ADHD in childhood increases the risk for later substance-related disorders, but there haven’t been any systematic evaluation of other childhood psychiatric disorders to determine a strong link.

Scientists now say that their findings indicate that not only ADHD increased the risk of addictions, but that other childhood psychiatric disorders also increased risk. This indicates the importance of early detection of mental health problems in a wider group.

The study re-analysed data of 37 previous studies containing a total of 762,187 individuals, of whom 22,029 had ADHD, 434 had disruptive behaviour disorders (such as ODD/CD), 1,433 had anxiety disorder and 2,451 had depression.

Interestingly, the results concerning anxiety were less clear. The risk may depend on the specific type of anxiety disorder, but to date, few studies have focused on this topic.

The findings show that children’s health and well-being while growing up can be indicators of the potential health issues they may encounter years later.

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