How Substance Users With ADHD Perceive the Relationship Between Substance Use and Emotional Functioning

John T. Mitchell, Thomas S. Weisner, Peter S. Jensen, Desiree W. Murray, Brooke S.G. Molina, L. Eugene Arnold, Lily Hechtman, James M. Swanson, Stephen P. Hinshaw, Elizabeth C. Victor, Scott H. Kollins, Karen C. Wells, Katherine A. Belendiuk, Andrew Blonde, Celeste Nguyen, Lizeth Ambriz, Jenny L. Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective: Although substance use (SU) is elevated in ADHD and both are associated with disrupted emotional functioning, little is known about how emotions and SU interact in ADHD. We used a mixed qualitative–quantitative approach to explore this relationship. Method: Narrative comments were coded for 67 persistent (50 ADHD, 17 local normative comparison group [LNCG]) and 25 desistent (20 ADHD, 5 LNCG) substance users from the Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD (MTA) adult follow-up (21.7-26.7 years-old). Results: SU persisters perceived SU positively affects emotional states and positive emotional effects outweigh negative effects. No ADHD group effects emerged. Qualitative analysis identified perceptions that cannabis enhanced positive mood for ADHD and LNCG SU persisters, and improved negative mood and ADHD for ADHD SU persisters. Conclusion: Perceptions about SU broadly and mood do not differentiate ADHD and non-ADHD SU persisters. However, perceptions that cannabis is therapeutic may inform ADHD-related risk for cannabis use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49S-60S
JournalJournal of Attention Disorders
Issue number9_suppl
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


  • ADHD
  • MTA study
  • qualitative research
  • substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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