Ritalin, Adderall, and other drugs to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) sent nearly 23,000 young adults to the emergency room in 2011, more than four times the amount in 2005, according to a new study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
The medications involved in the study include Ritalin, Adderall, Strattera, Vyvanse, and their generic equivalents. The study also included caffeine pills and energy drinks, as well as cases of alcohol use in combination with stimulants. The study focused on young adults between 18 and 35 years of age, but the greatest rise in stimulant use was among the 18-to-25-year-old group, the data revealed.
In 2011, more than 48 million prescriptions for ADHD stimulants were written – 39 percent more than in 2007. Nearly 14,000 new monthly prescriptions were written for ADHD drugs since 2007.
Also alarming was the rise in ADHD drug use among young adults who did not have a prescription for the medication. More than half said they got the drugs from a friend or relative at no charge. An additional 17 percent said they bought the medication from someone they knew. This group – those who took ADHD drugs without a prescription – accounted for the most emergency room visits.
The report, which is published a recent issue of The DAWN Report, warned that “nonmedical” use of stimulant drugs has also been linked to heart and blood vessel damage.