Hold the presses! ADHD IS real, and is linked to a variant dopamine receptor gene.
A second study — led this time by Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse — suggests that the ADHD drug Ritalin works by increasing the brain’s production of dopamine.
This finding implies that reduced production of dopamine is involved in ADHD and may help explain why many people with the condition also abuse drugs.
“Individuals with ADHD have a decreased function of the brain dopamine system,” Volkow said. “ADHD, clearly, is associated with a biochemical dysfunction,” she added.
The finding is important, because it belies the myth that ADHD is not a real disease but was just created “to sell medication,” Volkow said. Instead, “this finding explains why stimulant medications, such as Ritalin, are beneficial, because they increase dopamine function in the brain,” she said.
In the study, Volkow’s team performed brain scans of 19 adults with ADHD who had never received Ritalin, as well as 24 healthy individuals. The scans were done after the participants were given shots of Ritalin or placebo.
The team found that the people with ADHD released less dopamine into their blood than those without the disease. However, Ritalin caused less of a decrease in dopamine than usual in these individuals. This reduction in dopamine was associated with typical symptoms of inattention, the researchers found.
Volkow noted that drugs such as nicotine, cocaine and methamphetamine also improve dopamine brain function.
“This may be the reason why individuals that have ADHD are at a much greater risk of abusing substances than the general population, because drugs of abuse increase dopamine brain function, and they will ‘feel better,’ ” Volkow said.
This study should be really affirming to anyone who has been scoffed at and told that ADHD is an excuse. The other benefit is that they should be able to target med therapies that aren’t lifelong at some point. Wouldn’t that be cool?
- Protect America Act: Bend Over and Show it to Big Brother
- Not Grandma’s Santa Monica