One in Five Diagnosed With ADHD May Develop Cocaine Habit as Adults

Kermit Cole

Research from Boston University suggests that exposure to stimulant medications such as Ritalin during adolescence may result in cocaine addiction in later life. “You can give drugs . . . during adulthood or during the juvenile stage and it may not have much of a long-lasting impact,” says BU professor Kathleen Kantak, who has spent five years researching possible ADHD/cocaine links. “But you take a brain that is very rapidly transitioning, you add a pharmacological agent on top of that, and you increase the risk of having some long-term consequences.”

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected]


  1. Society really needs to take a look at caffeine, The Gateway To All Speed, but since it is in such wide-spread legal use and such a money-maker that is not about to happen. No psychiatrist ever said anything to me about caffeine, in fact its use, except when it made clients too alert, was encouraged in “mental health” settings at least into the 1980s.

    The first time it was suggested that I abstain from caffeine was by Dr. Paul Eck when I obtained a tissue mineral analysis from ARL in 1982. This was also the first time I became aware of the potency of the stuff and the withdrawal effects like headaches and mood swings.

    Now Five Hour Energy seems to be at every check-out counter and even hosts programs on National Public Radio. Say anything negative about it or Red Bull and people regard you as a nut case. It’s as American as Coca Cola. Oh, that’s right, Coke contained cocaine when it was first introduced to consumers, and the “Un-Cola”, 7-Up, featured lithium. “Try making that (lithium) from a cola nut (or a coca leaf).”

    When I was a young boy, watching a western movie on our black and white TV with my father, the bartender in the saloon said to the cowboys, “Name your poison.”

    I asked my father, “Dad, are those drinks poison?”. He thought a moment and answered “Yes, they’re all poison, even that “saspirilla” that the good guy drinks.”

  2. Her research suggests that rats which displayed ADHD symptoms during adolescence and were given Ritalin, responded favorably. They were taken off Ritalin until they reached adulthood. Then, they responded favorably once again.

    Some bona fide researchers, including those quoted by MIA, confirm over and over again the fact that ADHD is certainly a real problem, often crippling those who manifest its symptoms.