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Tobacco and ADHD: A Role of MAO-Inhibition in Nicotine Dependence and Alleviation of ADHD Symptoms

journal contribution
posted on 2022-07-25, 19:50 authored by MR Taylor, Kelly Carrasco, Andres Carrasco, A Basu
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a relatively commonly occurring neurodevelopmental disorder affecting approximately 5% of children and young people. The neurobiological mechanisms of ADHD are proposed to particularly center around increased dopamine receptor availability related to associated symptoms of reduced attention regulation and impulsivity. ADHD is also persistent across the lifespan and associated with a raft of impulsive and health-risk behaviors including substance abuse and smoking. Research highlighting the potentially significant levels of monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitory properties in tobacco smoke and e-cigarettes may provide a mechanism for increased tobacco smoke dependence among those with ADHD, in addition to the role of nicotine. Aim: This scoping review aimed to establish evidence for the above neurobiological pathway between smoking and ADHD symptom-alleviation or “self-medication” with the inclusion of the mechanism of MAO-inhibitors indirect increasing dopamine in the brain. Methodology: Scoping review methodologies were employed in this review selected to synthesize multiple sources of empirical research to identify current gaps in the knowledge base and identify key characteristics of research data related to a phenomenon. Databases searched included OVID MEDLINE(R), Embase, Cochrane, PsycINFO and SCOPUS limited to 2000 onward and empirically validated, peer-reviewed research. Findings: There is support for the role of MAO-inhibition on greater reinforcement of smoking for individuals with ADHD through a greater impact on dopaminergic availability than nicotine; potentially moderating ADHD symptoms. Conclusion: Greater support for a “self-medication” model of ADHD and smoking includes not only nicotine but also MAO-inhibitors as dopamine agonists contained in cigarettes and e-cigarettes.


Preferred citation

Taylor, M. R., Carrasco, K., Carrasco, A. & Basu, A. (2022). Tobacco and ADHD: A Role of MAO-Inhibition in Nicotine Dependence and Alleviation of ADHD Symptoms. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 16, 845646-.

Journal title

Frontiers in Neuroscience



Publication date





Frontiers Media SA

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Online publication date






Article number

ARTN 845646