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UH: Gender differences in risk pathways for adolescent substance abuse and early adult alcoholism

Author: Paivi.M.Lehtinen 10.06.2011 12:19

University of Helsinki
University Communications

10th June, 2011

Gender differences in risk pathways for adolescent substance abuse and
early adult alcoholism

According to a recent Finnish study, boys and girls with attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may differ from each other in their
vulnerability to substance use problems.

Clinically ascertained reports suggest that boys and girls with attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may differ from each other in their
vulnerability to substance use problems, say the researchers of the
University of Helsinki and University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

A total of 1545 Finnish adolescents were assessed for DSM-IV-based ADHD
symptoms by their parents and classroom teachers using standardized rating
scales at age 11-12 years. At age 14, substance use disorders and
psychiatric co-morbidity were assessed with the Semi-Structured Assessment
for the Genetics of Alcoholism, providing DSM-III-R/DSM-IV diagnoses for
Axis I disorders. At age 17.5, substance use was assessed by multi-item
questionnaire.

Baseline ADHD symptoms were less common among girls than boys, but among
girls they were more predictive of adverse substance use outcomes once
conduct disorder and previous substance use were controlled for. Only in
females were baseline ADHD symptoms significant predictors of alcohol
abuse and dependence and illicit drug use at age 14. At the age of 17.5,
parents' reports of inattentiveness and hyperactivity were significant
predictors for frequent alcohol use in both sexes, but they were more
predictive of frequent alcohol and illicit drug use in girls.

Impulsivity in teachers' ratings predicted frequent alcohol use and
illicit drug use in boys. Parental reports of inattentiveness in their
11-/12-year-old daughters were a consistent predictor for illicit drug use
across adolescence.

"Inattentiveness and hyperactivity may be more predictive of alcohol use
disorders and maladaptive patterns of alcohol and illicit drug use among
girls than boys", says psychiatrist, Dr. Elina Sihvola. "The importance of
these behavioural symptoms should be assessed further in the community, as
they could jeopardize adolescents? successful transitioning into adult
roles", she adds.


For further information, please contact:

Dr. Elina Sihvola, University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital
Tel. +358 9 471 75474 or +358 9 471 75461
E-mail: elina.sihvola@helsinki.fi

The study will be presented at the symposium of European Society for Child
and Adolescent Psychiatry (ESCAP) on the 13th of June, 2011, in Helsinki,
Finland.

Reference:
Prospective relationships of ADHD symptoms with developing substance use
in a population-derived sample? E. Sihvola1, 2*, R. J. Rose3, D. M. Dick4,
T. Korhonen1, L. Pulkkinen5, A. Raevuori1, M. Marttunen6, 7 and J.
Kaprio1, 6, 8. Psychological Medicine 2011, Cambridge university press
2011.