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More Adults Than Children Taking ADHD Medication

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The number of Western Australians being prescribed stimulants for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) continues to fall with an 8.6 per cent reduction over the past year.

But for the first time since the introduction of the Western Australian Stimulant Regulatory Scheme in 2004, there are more adults than children taking medication for the disorder.

Public Health Physician Dr Margaret Stevens said in 2007 there were 6,997 adults compared to 6,188 children prescribed medicines such as Ritalin or dexamphetamine for ADHD.

“While the number of children treated with stimulants for ADHD has fallen by 2,671 since 2004, the number of adults treated with stimulants for ADHD has increased by 693 over the same period,” she said.

“The report doesn’t look into the reasons for this trend but it may be that there is now greater awareness that ADHD can affect adults as well as children.

“Studies show that around 60 per cent of people with ADHD symptoms in childhood continue to have their disorder into adulthood.

“The lower rates in children may be due to a greater awareness among health professionals and the community about alternative treatment options.”

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The report also showed:

* A 13 per cent reduction in the number of people being prescribed stimulants for ADHD since 2004

* The average age of children on treatment was 12.5 years and the average age of adults on treatment was 31.4 years

* 1.4 per cent of children and 0.44 per cent of adults were prescribed stimulant medicines in the treatment of ADHD.

* There were more males than females on stimulant treatment with a ratio of 4.1 to 1 for children and 1.7 to 1 for adults.

* 84.4 per cent of adults and 77.8 per cent of children prescribed stimulant medication for ADHD live in the Perth metropolitan area.

The Stimulant Regulatory Scheme requires the Department of Health to be notified of all patients prescribed dexamphetamine or methylphenidate for the treatment of ADHD or other disorders.

This is the fourth report of the data generated by the scheme and includes information on prescribing patterns, rates of treatment, and patient demographics.