ADHD Drug Abuse Among Teens Rising
A new medical study released Monday found that next to marijuana, prescription medications are the most common drugs teenagers use to get high and ADHD drug abuse among teens is on the rise.
In the study, researchers from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center evaluated data from 1998-2005 by the American Association of Poison Control Centers. In that time, nationwide calls related to teen abuse of ADHD drugs, specifically stimulants, increased from 330 to 581 yearly, and there were four deaths. Overall, 42 percent of teens involved had moderate to severe side-effects and most ended up getting emergency-room treatment. The surge, from 1998 to 2005, outpaced calls for teen substance abuse and is paralleled an 86 percent rise in ADHD medicine prescriptions for kids aged 10 to 19, from about 4 million to nearly 8 million during that time.
Addiction to ADHD medications, such as Ritalin, Adderall and Dexedrine, is rising among U.S. teenagers and these medications are all drugs that stimulate the central nervous system. Amphetamine and dextroamphetamine medications like Adderall and Dexedrine can be addictive and have side effects.
Side effects of these medications can include headache, stomach pain, sleeplessness, dizziness, nervousness, tics, allergic reactions, increased blood pressure, mood swings, suicidal thoughts, aggression behavior and psychosis (abnormal thinking or hallucinations). In 2006, an FDA review found 25 reports of sudden death in both children and adults after taking stimulant ADHD drugs. The FDA also reported 54 instances of other very serious cardiovascular problems that occurred in patients taking ADHD drugs that included heart attacks, stroke, and Arrhythmia.
Mark Stein, a psychiatry professor and ADHD expert at University of Illinois at Chicago, said abuse typically involves crushing and snorting the pills, which speeds up the effects and can produce a buzz or sense of euphoria along with dangerous side effects. They say, “It's FDA approved, how dangerous could it be?” said Steve Pasierb, head of The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, based in New York. Kids who develop serious side effects should be taken to the emergency room, where sedatives can be used to treat the problem.
Because ADHD drug abuse among teens is on the rise, parents "need to be aware of the potential for the abuse of these medications for teens that have and haven't been prescribed them," Setlik said. He further stated that the study should not deter use of ADHD drugs in teens who may really need them, particularly since there's evidence that kids with ADHD who don't get medication are at risk for abusing illicit drugs.