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ADHD meds: an increasing source of ED visits

Thursday January 24, 2013
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The number of ED visits involving attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder stimulant medications more than doubled between 2005 and 2010, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The greatest rates of increase occurred among those ages 18 and older, while the level among those younger than 18 remained largely unchanged. In all, the number of visits rose from 13,379 in 2005 to 31,244 five years later (there were 2.3 million ED visits related to the use of all drugs in 2010).

The number of ED visits involving ADHD medications that were used nonmedically also nearly tripled during the period, from 5,212 to 15,585. In 2010, nonmedical use of ADHD medications accounted for half of all ED visits involving ADHD medications.

Differences in the rates of ED visits related to the nonmedical use of ADHD medications narrowed considerably between males and females during a similar time frame. The breakdown by gender was 3,770 such visits for males and 1,439 for females in 2005, compared with 8,650 for males and 6,932 for females in 2011.

"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."

The report is based on findings from the 2011 Drug Abuse Warning Network report. DAWN is a public health surveillance system that monitors drug-related morbidity and mortality through reports from a network of hospitals across the nation.

The report is available at www.samhsa.gov/data/2k13/DAWN073/sr073-ADD-ADHD-medications.htm.


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