An estimated 2 - 8% of college students have ADHD and students with ADHD comprise the majority of individuals registered with campus disability support services. Of great concern, college students with ADHD, compared to their peers without ADHD, are particularly vulnerable to problematic alcohol use given the developmentally-inappropriate levels of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity characteristic of the disorder, combined with the college lifestyle (i.e., increased access to alcohol and decreased structure and parental supervision). Our prior research has demonstrated that alcohol-related problems and disorders (AUDs) occur at high rates among college students with ADHD: 47% of college students with ADHD met lifetime criteria for alcohol abuse and 23% met criteria for dependence (Rooney, Chronis-Tuscano & Yoon, 2012; Rooney, Huggins & Chronis-Tuscano, 2012), as compared to 12% lifetime abuse and 6% lifetime dependence rates in college students from the general population (Slutske, 2005). Moreover, college students with ADHD are at increased risk for academic and social failure, and are less likely to graduate; alcohol and drug use may compound these risks. Despite the clear indication from emerging research of the need for interventions for this population, there are currently no published randomized controlled studies of psychosocial interventions for college students with ADHD, and none specifically targeting problematic alcohol use in those with ADHD at any age. Moreover, brief motivation-based alcohol interventions (BMIs) that generally have been successful for college students show limited benefits among individuals with elevated impulsivity and poor self-regulation, both hallmarks of ADHD (Ewing et al., 2009), calling for the need to modify BMIs for this vulnerable group. This NIAAA-funded project aims to develop and test a novel treatment for college students with ADHD which integrates BMI with Behavioral Activation, with the intention of reducing problematic alcohol use and improving overall functioning in this at-risk population.
Huggins, S.P., Chronis-Tuscano, A., & Rooney, M. (2012). Risky sexual behavior among college students with ADHD: Is the mother-child relationship protective? Journal of Attention Disorders. doi:10.1177/1087054712459560
Rooney, M., Chronis-Tuscano, A., & Yoon, Y. (2012a). Substance use in college students with ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders, 16, 221-234. doi:10.1177/1087054710392536
Rooney, M., Huggins, S.L., & Chronis-Tuscano, A. (2012b). Disinhibition mediates the relationship between ADHD and problematic alcohol use in college students. Journal of Attention Disorders. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/1087054712459885