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The Relationship Between Nicotine and ADHD

Research has shown that teenagers and adults with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to smoke cigarettes and have a higher chance of becoming addicted to nicotine. Teens and adults with ADHD are also more likely to start smoking at a younger age, and have more difficulty quitting tobacco use. This relationship between nicotine and ADHD raises high concern because of the many negative health consequences of smoking, and smoking cigarettes may also open doors to other drug use such as marijuana. Studies have shown that genes may contribute to increased nicotine use in those with ADHD.

Though we don’t fully understand all the mechanisms responsible, both neurobiological and behavioral factors seem to contribute to higher rates of nicotine use in people with ADHD. Social influences, such as being exposed to smoking by family members and peers, also raise this risk.

Verywell Mind

Helpful Strategies To Quit Smoking If You Have ADHD:

  • Ask your healthcare provider for help. Everyone is different, so your healthcare provider can help decide the best way for you to quit given your situation and health status.
  • Consider a smoking cessation aid. Some studies have found that using a smoking cessation aid, such as varenicline (Chantix), helps reduce smoking levels in people with ADHD.17
  • Remember your why. It’s also helpful to keep in mind the reasons you want to quit, whether it is to improve your health, because you no longer want to feel addicted, or something else. Remembering these when you feel like lighting up can help you avoid the urge.
  • Take a multi-treatment approach. In the study that found that quitting smoking can reduce anxiety and depression in people with ADHD, the subjects quit using a combination of counseling and a nicotine patch.16 Another study reported that medication combined with a nicotine patch appears to be helpful for people with ADHD.

Quitting nicotine and tobacco use may be difficult, however it is possible. Remember your reasons for wanting to quit, stay active and healthy, and connect with your healthcare provider for treatment options. Researchers need to study the relationship between ADHD and increased smoking in order to fully understand and create better more effective treatment options.

The Minnesota State Legislature is assessing a proposal to end sales of all flavored tobacco products that appeal to the youth. Polls show that 62% of Minnesotans support the proposal, and 33% are in opposition. Learn more about the flavor ban at:



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