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Teens with ADHD Most Likely to Drop Out of High School

Teens with ADHD are twice as likely as teens with no mental health disorders to drop out of high school.

Researchers at the UC Davis School of Medicine wanted to know what factors are likely to cause students to drop out of high school. To find out, they examined data from more than 29 000 participants of the 2001 and 2002 National Epidemiological Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions.

Factors That Cause High School Drop Out

  • 32.3% of teens with combined ADHD will drop out of high school, compared to only 15% of teens without a mental health disorder. The CDC estimates that 4.5 million children between the ages of 9 and 17 have ADHD.
  • 31% of teens with conduct disorder drop out
  • 29% of teens who use tobacco will drop out
  • 28.6% of students with mania and 24.9% of students with panic disorders drop out

Pediatric Doctor Elizabeth Miller of UC Davis Hospital commented on the significance of the findings, saying, "Understanding the factors that contribute to dropping out of high school has major public-health implications, given that a third of youth in this country do not complete high school on time. Supporting mental-health interventions for students may have a significant impact on reducing high school dropout."

Lead study author Joshua Breslau explained why different mental illnesses can be so devastating to an academic career, saying, “Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder impacts achievement because it affects how well students are able to perform basic classroom tasks from paying attention to turning in their homework… Students with conduct disorder are able to do just as well as everyone else academically but disciplinary issues and dealing with the routines of school life may cause them to drop out.”

The full research results can be read in the July edition of Journal of Psychiatric Research

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