News | Published August 28, 2012

Concerned about long-term use of ADHD drugs?

Whenever you are taking a long-term medication, you should always ask the question about long-term issues and consequences of taking it consistently.

New research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, published in Neuropsychoparmacology and titled Brain Development Not Affected By Long-Term ADHD Drug, found that drugs used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) "do not appear to have long-term effects on the brain."

"As many as five to seven percent of elementary school children are diagnosed with ADHD, a behavioral disorder that causes problems with inattentiveness, over-activity, impulsivity, or a combination of these traits. Many of these children are treated with psychostimulant drugs, and while doctors and scientists know a lot about how these drugs work and their effectiveness, little is known about their long-term effects.

Linda Porrino, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, along with fellow professor Michael A. Nader, PhD, both of Wake Forest Baptist, and colleagues conducted an animal study to determine what the long-lasting effects may be. Their findings were surprising, said Porrino.

"We know that the drugs used to treat ADHD are very effective, but there have always been concerns about the long-lasting effects of these drugs," Porrino said. "We didn't know whether taking these drugs over a long period could harm brain development in some way or possibly lead to abuse of drugs later in adolescence.

Our study showed that long-term therapeutic use of drugs to treat ADHD does not cause long-term negative effects on the developing brain, and importantly, it doesn't put children at risk for substance abuse later in adolescence," she said.

These medications are a great help in properly diagnosed individuals and I am glad to see that they appear to be safe in this study.