More Kids Buzzing On Abuse Of ADHD Drugs

Filed under: Medical Conditions, In The News, Alcohol & Drugs, Special Needs, Health & Safety: Tweens, Research Reveals: Tweens, Health & Safety: Teens, Research Reveals: Teens

pills

More kids are misusing prescription ADHD medication. Credit: Fillmore Photography, Flickr

The pills help them concentrate, stay awake longer and finish their work faster.

The kids who take these drugs can impress their parents and teachers and feel a little less different among other kids who don't share their challenges.

And if one pill helps, then two or three should ...

You can see where this is going. The September issue of Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, reports that abuse of drugs prescribed for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) increased 75 percent between 1998 and 2005.

"We looked at all the poison centers across the nation and found a significant increase in the number of calls for ADHD medication abuse that parallels the amount of prescriptions being written," Dr. Jennifer Setlik, an emergency physician at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and an author of the study, said in a story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday.

Setlik said the study looked only at poison control centers. However, she said in the story, it gives parents and physicians a good snapshot.

Although Pediatrics is sounding the alarm, the problem is not new. In 2006, The Washington Post cited a study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse that estimated that more than 1.6 million American teenagers and young adults misused prescription drugs for ADHD during a 12-month period,and 75,000 became addicted.

Researchers in the study cited in Pediatrics looked at poison control centers over an eight-year period and found that the total number of calls went from 330 in the first year of the study to 581 in the last year. During the same time, prescriptions for Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta and other ADHD medications rose 80 percent for all young children and teenagers.

ADHD reportedly affects roughly between 8 and 12 percent of U.S. children and 4 percent of adults, according to American Academy of Pediatrics statistics.

The academy's study claims that ADHD prescription drugs are the most commonly abused drugs among teenagers after marijuana.

"Fifty percent of kids report never hearing a single word about prescription drug abuse, but these drugs are just as dangerous, just as addictive and just as deadly as illicit drugs" said Tom Hedrick, one of the founders of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, according to the Journal-Constitution story.

"Right now parents may feel a sense of relief that their kids are taking prescription medicines and not street drugs," Hedrick said. "But what we really have is the perfect storm because there's a lack of awareness and an ease of availability."

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.