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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter July 12, 2013

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dual disorders. Educational needs for an underdiagnosed condition

  • Jose Martinez-Raga EMAIL logo , Nestor Szerman , Carlos Knecht and Raquel de Alvaro


A wide range of comorbid psychiatric disorders overlap with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) across the life span. There is a robust and complex link between ADHD and substance use disorders (SUD). The aim of this report was to review the neurobiological and other vulnerability factors explaining the comorbidity of ADHD and an addictive disorder, as well as the key aspects of the assessment and diagnosis of dually diagnosed ADHD patients. A comprehensive and systematic search of relevant databases (PubMed, Embase, and PsychINFO) was conducted to identify studies published in peer-reviewed journals until July 31, 2012, with the aim of exploring the association of ADHD and SUD with postgraduate training and residency education. Across the life span, ADHD is associated with significant impairment and comorbidity. Data from epidemiological, clinical and epidemiological studies show a very solid link between ADHD and SUD. Therefore, it is very important to carefully and systematically assess for any substance use in patients with suspected ADHD coming to initial assessment, and vice versa. While there are various valid and reliable rating and screening scales, diagnosis cannot solely rely on any of the instruments available for both SUD and ADHD in adult patients with dual pathology. The most important and effective tool in the assessment of dually diagnosed patients with ADHD and SUD is a full and comprehensive clinical and psychosocial assessment. Hence, it is essential to actively incorporate training opportunities on the assessment, diagnosis, and management of adult ADHD and dually diagnosed ADHD patients during postgraduate education residency or specialist training.

Corresponding author: Jose Martinez-Raga, MD, PhD, Servicio de Psiquiatría, Hospital Universitario Dr Peset, Avda Gaspar Aguilar 90, 46017 Valencia, Spain


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Received: 2012-8-5
Accepted: 2012-9-19
Published Online: 2013-07-12
Published in Print: 2013-09-01

©2013 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston

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