Why are more kids than ever before overdosing on ADHD drugs in America?
Did you know that the number of U.S. children unnecessarily exposed to powerful medications meant to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has gone through the roof over the past few years? In fact, over a 15-year period, unnecessary exposure to ADHD drugs has increased by more than 60% according to reports!
Study on ADHD Drug Exposure
Recently there was a report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics on ADHD drug exposure and reports to poison control centers indicate:
- In the year 2000, there were 7,018 calls to poison control centers related to an ADHD drug
- In 2014, there were 11,486 calls to poison control centers related to an ADHD drug
The study defines “exposure” to an ADHD drug as “unnecessary ingestions, inhalation or absorption” of ADHD medications. This includes when the exposure to the drug is both accidental and on purpose.
The study examined data from approximately 156,000 poison center calls made over the course of 15 years. Another disturbing aspect of the data they collected showed:
- 82% of the calls were “unintentional exposure”
- 18% were “intentional exposure”
When taking a closer look at the ADHD drug exposure statistics, the researchers focused in on four of the most common medications used to treat ADHD, including:
Ritalin was the ADHD drug with the highest number of exposures.
One of the lead authors of the study is Dr. Gary Smith. When discussing the conclusions made during the study, Smith states:
“What we found is that, overall, during that 15 years, there was about a 60% increase in the number of individuals exposed and calls reported to poison control centers regarding these medications.”
Smith also concludes that one of the more troublesome findings in the study is the severity of the exposures among the adolescents due to intentional exposure. So essentially, 18% of the calls coming into poison centers concerning an ADHD drug were due to kids taking the medications on purpose.
The study also compared these medications across three different age groups:
- 0-5 years
- 6-12 years
- 13-19 years
In the 0-5 year age group, they discovered that unintentional exposure was due to “exploratory behaviors”. However, with children 6-12 years old, exposure was due to:
- “Therapeutic errors”
- “Accidentally taking multiple pills”
Sadly, among the group 13-19 years old, more than 50% of exposures to an ADHD drug were intentional. Researchers note that many teenagers will use these stimulants because.
Even worse is, of all the poison center calls, around 10% resulted in a serious medical outcome. 10% may not seem like a lot, in regards to poisoning from medications any number is too many.
Ups and Downs
Smith did note that there were some ups and downs in the trends concerning ADHD and complications from the medications. For instance, the study notes:
- Between 2000 and 2011- ADHD drug exposures increased by 71%
- Between 2011 and 2014- ADHD drug exposures dropped by 6.2%
It is unclear why there was this decrease in ADHD drug exposure rates. However, some believe it may be due to the fact that warnings from the FDA about the adverse side-effects of ADHD medications could play a big part in it.
Another thing that stands out about this study is that we have also seen a steady increase in the rate of ADHD diagnosis. Case in point, according to new reports:
- 14% of all American children were diagnosed with ADHD in 2014
- Between 2005 and 2014 the number of ADHD diagnoses more than doubled
While it is important to note that these medications can be helpful for some, they can also be extremely dangerous. According to Dr. Benjamin Shain of NorthShore University HealthSystem and the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine,
“Adverse effects of taking too much stimulant medication include fast heart rate, increased blood pressure, tremors, and agitation. Worse case scenarios include schizophrenic-like psychosis, heart attack, stroke, seizures and death,”
Shain adds that adverse effects are the same if you do or do not have ADHD, or if you take too much of the medication. So people who are prescribed an ADHD drug still run the risk of suffering through some of these side-effects.
Making Safer Choices
At the end of the day, it is all about making safer choices for yourself or your loved one. When it comes to treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, there are other important elements. Various therapies can be helpful in creating a more comprehensive treatment plan, such as:
Ironically, these same therapies are also extremely helpful for those who may find themselves abusing these kinds of prescription medications. People suffering from substance use disorder can benefit greatly from these opportunities.
Because these ADHD drugs are stimulants, they also have a tendency to be abused. Either by those with a medical prescription who use too much of the drug or by those with no medical need who use them for the feelings of energy and focus they get. Again, in the case of prescription stimulant abuse, the beginning of a path to recovery means making safer choices. One of the best choices you can make is to seek professional and effective treatment options.
Palm Partners Recovery Center believes in providing innovative and personalized treatment options to anyone battling with substance abuse or addiction. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
The meaning of life isn’t spelled out for anyone, it doesn’t necessarily exist in terms of black and white or wrong and right… because the meaning of your life always depends on the design you give it, or the words and feelings you use to define it; often leaving shades of grey area between opinions and their oppositions. Our passion for personal truth is an integral aspect of the meaning of life, which is best discovered through genuinely living it and experiencing every second with fulfillment. So is it really so crazy to assume that drug abuse is stealing the meaning of life from us?
Here I want to look closely at stimulants, or ‘smart drugs’ which can positively alter how we experience activities, and when taken consistently narcotics of this nature might instill in us tolerance for a long-term circumstance by regularly creating an artificial sense of interest.
Torben Kjaersgaard recently published a paper called Enhancing Motivation by Use of Prescription Stimulants: The Ethics of Motivation Enhancement focused on a more personal concern: are these smart drugs corrupting our reasoning for the meaning of our lives?
His target substances were infamous smart drugs used to treat ADHD and wakefulness disorder-drugs such as Adderall and Modafinil. It is true these drugs give people with conditions like ADHD a cognitive boost, but abusing smart drugs has become pretty popular, so how many lives are being stolen by these pills designed for productivity?
Are They Helping?
When you look at the evidence, despite consistent claims contrary to the data, these ‘smart drugs’ have a questionable reputation, with mixed rates (at best) of actually enhancing the cognitive abilities of off-label (not prescribed) users.
In the case of drugs like Adderall and Ritalin, data from over 50 experiments testing the effects of these smart drugs on cognition among healthy, young adults found a barely even mixture of significant and insignificant results, with reason to believe many other insignificant results go unreported.
In the case of Modafinil, regarded as the more potent smart drug, little evidence exists that it has any significant cognitive effect on healthy participants. To the contrary, 2 recent studies determined Modafinil actually slows down the response time of users in certain tasks and hinders creative thinking.
So out of the house-hold names for smart drugs, it seems they are highly over-rated in recreational use. So why is it so many people insist they work when abused?
Most people surveyed actually point to a sense of urgency and artificial interest in an otherwise meaningless task at hand. If anything, these results aren’t showing improvement in recall or learning abilities, people just feel more driven. That boring project or grunt work becomes interesting, enjoyable, or even entrancing.
Smart Drugs Stealing Our Lives?
This is where we find Kjaersgaard’s question, which initially may sound more abstract:
What part of ourselves do we risk by using substances that enhance our interest in certain pursuits which we would otherwise find alienating, uninspiring and meaningless?
In a way Kjaersgaard is concerned about the impact of these drugs on our moods and motivations, and even questions if these drugs are cognitive enhancers at all.
Could we as a society end up leading deeply inauthentic lives, using willpower and interest contrived by pharmaceuticals just to get by in a life that otherwise means nothing to us?
Most sentiments expressed by users about the effects of smart drugs are in line with a group of research suggesting the impact of these drugs, if any at all, it’s largely subjective.
One study on the effects of Adderall failed to find cognitive enhancement effects, but what it did find was that users tended to believe their performance was enhanced compared to those given a placebo.
Similarly for Modafinil, evidence suggests the drug induces a subjective impression of better cognitive functioning without actually improving functionality.
So what does this mean?
It tells us it is safe to say smart drugs act on our moods and dispositions in a way that makes us feel up to the task at hand without actually making us more capable. We are NOT smarter, we are just motivated.
Coming full-circle, we look at this on a deeper level. A lack of motivation or inspiration in our life is symptomatic of a deeper problem: we are not truly fulfilled or happy with our lives!
So is it justifiable to use a smart drug, or really any drug at the end of the day, to chemically convince ourselves to accept a job or a study that does not fulfill us?
The lack of motivation for your job might be an intrinsic impulse created by our inner selves, alerting us to an alienation from our life’s true meaning. Living incongruity between who we are and what we do is sometimes a reality, but are smart drugs and narcotic stimulants just another way to make ourselves submissive to it?
Does drug abuse force us into a life we don’t want to live?
Using a pill to get by are we numbing ourselves to a simple sense our spirit is sending us… trying to tell us we are not happy, we are not complete, and we are not living how we want?
Some might say abusing smart drugs can be justified because the way the world works some of us have to commit to a deeply alienating job, so why not at least use something to enjoy it. But if our options are limited purely due to unjust socio-political forces don’t “motivation enhancing drugs” start to look more like “political complacence pills”.
Sounds like a page from a novel on a dystopian future ruled with political influence interfering with personal growth and discovery. This logic paints Adderall like a plot device derived from Aldous Huxley.
A world addicted to smart drugs doesn’t need to strive for a better world, it just artificially adapts itself to enjoy the otherwise unenjoyable and unjust in order to keep people in line.
It seems like stepping back to take all this in, abusing drugs is just a way we trap ourselves in a life that holds no meaning to us.
Addiction is like that, we numb ourselves to our circumstances for lack of a better world, but the truth is we have all the capacity in the world to change it. It is a cop-out to having to take responsibility for our own destinies and pursue our own fulfillment.
The truth behind it, or at least my truth… drugs don’t make a better world, we do.
Life is like everything else, it only has as much meaning as we give it.
In the fight against drugs and alcohol, people lose their lives every single day, using drugs trying to escape a life they probably find has lost its meaning not knowing there is something much greater waiting for them on the other side of recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, chose life, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
The year 2013 was a pretty crazy year when it came to new drugs and news stories about drugs. So with the year coming to an end, I figured it would be cool to take a look back on all the drugs that made headlines in 2013, so here they are.
Drugs That Made Headlines in 2013: Benzo Fury
After being subject to a provisional ban since June, Benzofuran – or Benzo Fury, as it’s more frequently known – and NBOMe are to be made class B and A drugs, respectively. Numerous users of the new drug Benzo Fury were spoken with to see what the effects of this drug are and what the high is like. The ones spoke to who used the drug in capsule form said it was like an ecstasy or MDMA type of a high, while others who used the drug in different forms described the high from Benzo Fury as a hallucinogenic and acid-like high.
Drugs That Made Headlines in 2013: Zohydro
Zohydro, Made by the company Zogenix, is the first pure hydrocodone prescription drug to ever be permitted by the FDA and the worries for misuse cannot be overlooked: Zohydro can be injected, snorted, or chewed by people wanting to abuse the drug such as opiate addicts in order to provide a powerful dose of hydrocodone and to get a “high” that’s similar heroin. Its super confusing that this new drug is out now when the FDA had recently said they were trying to get tighter control on hydrocodone.
Drugs That Made Headlines in 2013: Krokodil
Krokodil (desomorphine) is a imitative of morphine that is 8 to 10 times more powerful. It can be factory-made illicitly from codeine and other simply attained products, like red phosphorus and gasoline. But, desomorphine manufactured this way is highly contaminated and contains toxic and destructive byproducts. Side effects of this drug (and where it received its street name from) are that your flesh literally starts to turn scale-like and green. You end up having severe tissue mutilation and decay, sometimes needing limb amputation. There is so much tissue damage related with the use of this drug that addicts are expected to have a life probability of 1-2 years.
Drugs That Made Headlines in 2013: Flesh Eating Cocaine
Flesh eating cocaine was found in New York and Los Angeles when people went into the hospitals in these cities and reported it. Levamisole was initially used as an anthelminthic, a specific drug that stuns or kills worms, to treat worm infestations in both humans and animals. Levamisole has progressively been used as a cutting agent in cocaine sold in both the U.S. and Canada; as if rotting skin wasn’t sufficient to turn you off of cocaine, for fright of it being part of the batch of flesh eating cocaine, Levamisole also stops the bone marrow from creating white blood cells, which are essential in fighting off infection.
Drugs That Made Headlines in 2013: Marijuana being Legalized & Alcohol being smoked
It was also brought into the headlines this year that Florida is trying to get marijuana legalized. Backing is overpowering between every group surveyed, fluctuating from 70 – 26 percent among Republicans to 90 – 10 percent among voters 18 to 29 years old. It was also a big issue that alcohol is now not just being drank, but inhaled, too. Someone can pour alcohol over dry ice and inhale it directly or with a straw, or make a DIY vaporizing kit using bike pumps. Whatever alcohol you choose is transferred into a bottle, the bottle is corked, and the bicycle pump needle is stabbed through the top of the cork. Air is pushed into the bottle to vaporize the alcohol, and the individual inhales it.
Drugs That Made Headlines in 2013: Narcan, Modafinil & Deadly Spice
Narcan has been a very recent new drug that is being carried by New Jersey Police officers. This drug is an antidote for heroin or opiate overdose and is being carried on the police due to the epidemic of heroin use all over right now. Modafinil has been compared to the ‘limitless drug’ from the movie starring Bradley Cooper. It is marketed in the US as Provigil. Modafinil was originally approved by the FDA in 1998 for narcolepsy treatment, but since then it’s become better known as a nootropic, a “smart drug,” especially among industrialists. And last but not least, it was in the news that people were being exposed to deadly versions of Spice. Since all of the Spice products are created so differently, you never know if a batch you get is going to be a good high or going to be an absolute nightmare.
All these new drugs make my head spin; what happened to just getting drunk (by drinking alcohol) and doing some good old fashioned drugs? Who knows what is going to be going around in the next few years or so, but let’s hope that 2014 is a year that doesn’t include a bunch of new drugs, too. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135.