Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) stimulant medications are resulting in an alarming increase in trips to the emergency department. In a period of five years the figure has more than doubled from approximately 13,000 in 2005 to 31,000 in 2010. The increase is evident among patients aged 18 and older, while rates for younger patients has remained relatively constant. The astounding increase between 2005 and 2010 is as follows; 282% increase in people aged 18-25, 247% increase in people aged 26-34, and 216% increase in people aged 35 and older.
Non-medical use of these drugs also contributes to the growing epidemic. According to a SAMHSA report, “The number of emergency department visits involving ADHD medications that were used non-medically…nearly tripled during this period – from 5,212 in 2005 to 15,585 in 2010. In 2010 non-medical use of ADHD medications accounted for half of all emergency department visits involving ADHD medications. In 2010 there were 2.3 million emergency department visits related to the misuse of all drugs.”
The National Institutes of Health, defines ADHD as ‘one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity (over-activity).’ Although treatment such as stimulant medications (e.g., methylphenidate and amphetamines) is available, there is currently no cure.
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