ADHD and addiction: Epidemiology, Genetics, Neurobiology, Prevention and Treatment

In this presentation, I will answer the following questions: How many patients with a substance use disorder (SUD) also meet criteria for adult ADHD? What are the biopsychosocial mechanisms responsible for this comorbidity? Is it possible to prevent the development of comorbid SUD in children/adolescents with ADHD? Do we need special interventions for the treatment of SUD patients with adult ADHD?

This review shows that adult ADHD is present in 15-25% of treatment-seeking SUD patients, that shared genetics factors play an important role in the comorbidity of these disorders, and that ADHD and SUD share many neurobiological characteristics. Furthermore, it is shown that the development of SUD in children with ADHD can be prevented by early stimulant treatment and that patients with comorbid SUD and ADHD can be effectively treated with high doses of stimulants.

Based on these findings, the presentation is completed with a short summary of an international consensus paper on screening, diagnosis, and treatment of patients with comorbid SUD and ADHD.

Wim van den Brink, Professor of Addiction Psychiatry at the Amsterdam University Medical Centre

Wim van den Brink is a Professor of Addiction Psychiatry at the Amsterdam University Medical Centre. He first received his medical degree in 1981 and trained as a Psychiatric Epidemiologist in Groningen and New York (1983 – 1987), completing his PhD in 1989. In 2014 he received the lifetime achievement award from the Netherlands Association of Psychiatry and in 2015, he became an honourable member of the Spanish Society for Dual disorders. In 2017 he received the European Addiction Research Award from the European Federation of Addiction Societies (EUFAS), and in 2020 he became Professor Honoris Causa at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary.

He is a (co)author of more than 600 international peer-reviewed scientific papers (HIWoS=80; HIGoogle Scholar=113). He has been a thesis advisor of more than 75 PhD students. He has been the chair of the Workgroups that developed the Dutch Treatment Guidelines on Alcohol Use Disorders, Opiate Addiction and Drugs other than opioids. He is one of the founders and president of the International Collaboration of ADHD and Substance Abuse (ICASA). His main scientific interests are related to the neurobiology of addiction and the pharmacological treatment of substance use disorders and related comorbidities.


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