Vol. 12, No. 3, 2006 Page 1&2


Adults with ADHD are at far greater risk than their peers for criminal arrests, divorce, depression, and career problems, according to a new study. The report, by Joseph Biederman and colleagues, adds to a large body of evidence showing that ADHD has severe life-long effects. (See a related report by the same research group, focusing on teens and young adults, in Crime Times, 2006, Vol. 12, No. 2, Page 1.)

Past investigations into the outcomes of adults with ADHD have focused on adults referred to mental health clinics. Because findings from clinical groups do not always generalize to the population as a whole, Biederman and colleagues instead studied a community sample of 500 adults who responded affirmatively to a survey asking if they had been diagnosed with ADHD at some point in their adult lives. A group of adults without ADHD, matched for gender and age, served as controls. Participants were evenly divided between men and women, and the mean age for both groups was in the early 30s. Of the ADHD adults, about two-thirds had been diagnosed before the age of 18.

Biederman and colleagues report that 37% of the adults with ADHD, compared to 18% of the controls, had been arrested. In addition, they say, "Adults who reported having been diagnosed with ADHD were significantly more likely to engage in antisocial and addictive behaviors than the control group," although there were no differences between the groups in the rate of alcoholism.

In addition, members of the ADHD group were nearly twice as likely to be divorced, and only 19% had college degrees, compared to 26% of the controls. The ADHD adults also experienced more job changes, and at the time of the survey, 14% of these individuals were looking for work, compared to only 5% of the controls. Adults with ADHD were much more likely to report feeling depressed on a frequent basis and to have negative relationships with peers. ADHD also was associated with a greater number of traffic violations.

"Taken together with other studies on adult ADHD," Biederman and colleagues say, "these findings support the idea that, when diagnosed in the community, ADHD is a clinically significant and highly disabling disorder in adults."


"Functional impairments in adults with self-reports of diagnosed ADHD: A controlled study of 1001 adults in the community," Joseph Biederman, Stephen V. Faraone, Thomas J. Spencer, Eric Mick, Michael C. Monuteaux, and Megan Aleardi, Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Vol. 67, No. 4, April 2006, 524-40. Address: Joseph Biederman, Massachusetts General Hospital, Pediatric Psychopharmacology Unit, Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care, YAW-6A-6900, 32 Fruit Street, Boston, MA 02114, jbiederman@partners.org.

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