Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who use stimulants like Ritalin are not at risk for cocaine addiction later in life. The study in rats suggests that stimulant treatment in childhood may blunt the pleasurable effects of cocaine in adulthood.
Many children and teens with ADHD are treated with stimulant medication, the best-known being Ritalin. These drugs appear to focus patients' attention and calm behavior. But there remain concerns about the long-term effects of ADHD medications, including whether they might make kids more prone to taking illegal drugs with stimulant effects.
Researchers say the findings support studies of children with the disorder that showed those treated with stimulant drugs were less likely than untreated children to abuse illicit drugs later on. They found that rats given methylphenidate (Ritalin) appeared to have an aversion to cocaine in adulthood, compared with untreated rats.