ADHD drug abuse by 13-19 year olds rose 76% from 1998 to 2005

The researchers looked for cases of intentional abuse or misuse of ADHD medications in youths 13 to 19 years old from 1998 through 2005.

They found that over the eight-year study period, the number of calls to poison control centers regarding ADHD medication use went up 76 percent, from 330 calls during the first year to 581 calls the last year.

Health Day News
August 24, 2009

As more and more prescriptions are being written for medications to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), more and more children are abusing these drugs.

That’s the conclusion of new research in the September issue of Pediatrics that found the rate of ADHD medication abuse was up 76 percent from 1998 to 2005, and at the same time, the rates of prescriptions for these medications rose about 80 percent.

“We looked at all the poison control centers across the nation and found a significant increase in the number of calls for ADHD medication abuse that parallels the amount of prescriptions being written,” said Dr. Jennifer Setlik, an emergency physician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio and a study author.

What’s more, Setlik said, is that this study is “not an estimate of the total problem” because it looks only at data from poison control centers, but it gives doctors and parents a snapshot of the trend toward rising abuse of these medications with increasing availability.

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