Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a risk factor for substance use disorders (SUDs) and nicotine dependence (ND). Neurocognitive deficits may predict the increased risk of developing SUDs and nicotine dependence.
This study comprised three groups derived from the Dutch part of the International Multicenter ADHD Genetics (IMAGE) study: ADHD probands (n = 294), unaffected siblings (n = 161), and controls (n = 214). At baseline (age = 12.2), a range of neurocognitive functions was assessed including executive functions (inhibition, working memory, timing), measures of motor functioning (motor timing and tracking) and IQ. After a mean follow-up of 4.2 years, SUDs and ND were assessed.
None of the neurocognitive functions predicted later SUDs or ND in ADHD probands, even after controlling for medication use and conduct disorder. Slower response inhibition predicted later nicotine dependence in unaffected siblings (OR = 2.06, 95% CI = 1.22–3.48), and lower IQ predicted increased risk for SUDs in controls (OR = 1.96, 95% CI = 1.12–3.44).
Cold executive functions, motor functioning, and IQ did not predict the elevated risk of SUDs and ND in ADHD. Future studies should target ‘hot’ executive functions such as reward processing as risk factors for SUDs or ND.