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Is Tobacco an Effective Treatment for ADHD?

March 2, 2011

A friend of who recently quit smoking made an interesting observation a few days ago. He said that he didn’t realize how much he had been coping with his ADHD by smoking until he quit.

I didn’t realize until then that it was possible to self medicate for ADHD with cigarettes. Naturally, I wanted to find out more about it, so I googled it.

I got nothing relevant.

I got a bunch of articles about how smoking when pregnant is linked to adhd and a few articles blaming ADHD behavior for smoking in the first place but NOTHING on whether smoking mediates ADHD symptoms.

It’s weird – I found articles that state people with ADHD are more likely to start smoking at an earlier age and I found articles that showed a greater likelihood of becoming addicted if you have ADHD, but I found nothing exploring whether the experimentation and addiction were possibly caused by an attempt to self medicate.

Now I understand that smoking is potentially risky and politically incorrect, so some people may hesitate to publish an article on its benefits, but surely SOMEONE has explored it, right? I mean nicotine is a stimulant just like ritalin and adderall, so it just makes sense to see how it compares to other drugs in effectiveness. If nothing else, the tobacco companies should have reason to explore it. Am I missing something? Did they do the studies and not report because it was ineffective? Is the anti-tobacco mindset THAT strong?

Has anyone heard even anecdotal evidence that my friend isn’t simply imagining the link between ADHD symptoms and tobacco use?

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