Sensitization-based risk for substance abuse in vulnerable individuals with ADHD: Review and re-examination of evidence

Iliyan Ivanov, James M. Bjork, James Blair, Jeffrey H. Newcorn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Evidence of sensitization following stimulants administration in humans is just emerging, which prevents reaching more definitive conclusions in favor or against a purported protective role of stimulant treatments for ADHD for the development of substance use disorders. Existing evidence from both animal and human research suggest that stimulants produce neurophysiological changes in the brain reward system, some of which could be persistent. This could be relevant in choosing optimal treatments for young patients with ADHD who have additional clinical risk factors for substance abuse (e.g. conduct disorder (CD) and/or familial addictions). Here we stipulate that, while the majority of youth with ADHD greatly benefit from treatments with stimulants, there might be a subpopulation of individuals whose neurobiological profiles may confer risk for heightened vulnerability to the effects of stimulants on the responsiveness of the brain reward system. We propose that focused human research is needed to elucidate the unknown effects of prolonged stimulant exposure on the neurophysiology of the brain reward system in young patients with ADHD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104575
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • ADHD
  • Brain reward system
  • SUD
  • Sensitization
  • Stimulants


Dive into the research topics of 'Sensitization-based risk for substance abuse in vulnerable individuals with ADHD: Review and re-examination of evidence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this