It is well known that the children of parents with alcohol abuse or
dependence have an increased chance of growing up to experience alcohol
problems themselves and that stress in the home is one of the many factors
that contribute to this problem.
For children who have been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD), new research lends credence to the theory that certain
behavioral traits associated with ADHD may make the youngsters more vulnerable
to problems stemming from this stressful or difficult home life and thus raise
the risk of future problems with alcohol.
"When a child has ADHD and the parent has suffered from alcoholism,
either currently or in the past, the child will have an increased risk of
alcohol problems himself or herself," Brooke Molina, Ph.D., told
Molina, who also found that adolescents and young adults diagnosed with
ADHD as children had much higher rates of alcohol abuse and dependence than
counterparts without ADHD (see "Comorbid ADHD, Conduct Disorder Raises
Alcohol-Abuse Risk"), used the same sample from the Pittsburgh ADHD
Longitudinal Study to determine what effect, if any, ADHD may have on children
growing up in a home where parents have an alcohol use disorder.
She and primary investigator Michael Marshal, Ph.D., interviewed 142
adolescents who had been diagnosed with ADHD as children and 100
demographically matched adolescents without ADHD in the Pittsburgh area and
asked them questions about drinking behaviors and negative life events. The
researchers also gathered information about parents' drinking histories.
They found that ADHD "facilitates the transmission of pathological
alcohol use from parent to child" in part because the children have
poorer skills for coping with stress in the home related to parental
An abstract of "Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
Moderates the Life Stress Pathway to Alcohol Problems in Children of
Alcoholics" is posted at<www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1530-0277.2007.00340.x>.