Substance Abuse

Number of ER Visits Related to Non-medical Use of ADHD Medications Soar!

Ritalin and Adderall can be effective treatment for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) when used as directed. But when misused, these ADHD stimulant medications can cause adverse symptoms, such as nervousness, insomnia, dizziness, and cardiovascular or psychiatric problems.

According to The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the number of emergency room visits involving attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) stimulant medications between 2005 and 2010 increased from 13,379 to 31,244. In 2010, non-medical use of ADHD medications accounted for half of all emergency department visits involving ADHD medications.

From 5,212 in 2005, emergency room visits related to non-medical use of ADHD medications nearly tripled at 15,585 in 2010. The rate of increase occurred among those aged 18 and older.

The report also showed the differences in the rates of emergency room visits related to the non-medical use of ADHD medications between males and females. In 2005, 3,770 of these emergency department visits involved males compared to 1,439 involving females. By 2011, 8,650 of these visits involved men while 6,932 involved females.

“ADHD medications, when properly prescribed and used, can be of enormous benefit to those suffering from ADHD, but like any other medication they can pose serious risks – particularly when they are misused,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde said in a news release. “This study indicates that a better job has to be done alerting all segments of society – not just the young – that misuse of these medications is extremely dangerous.”

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