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
With drug abuse being a major issue facing the nation, education is extremely important. Any hope of winning the fight against rising overdose rates and the spread of drug-related illness and death starts with making sure we have as much information as possible to make a difference. On that note, explaining prescription drug abuse is critical because prescription drug abuse is a key contributor to the state of the country today.
If we want to help people avoid prescription drug abuse, or recognize the signs and know there is help, it is important to explain the reality and the risks.
What is prescription drug abuse?
Simply put- prescription drug abuse is one of two things.
- When someone takes a medication that is not their prescription
- If someone takes their own prescription in a way not intended by a doctor or for a different reason
When you take prescription drugs properly they are usually safe. It requires a trained health care clinician, such as a doctor or nurse, to determine if the benefits of taking the medication outweigh any risks for side effects. But when abused and taken in different amounts or for different purposes than as prescribed, they affect the brain and body in ways very similar to illicit drugs.
These drugs have a close relation to morphine, or the street drug heroin. Opioids are typically for pain management. Opioid addiction has become one of the biggest problems facing the country today. Drugs such as:
These drugs are also known as “downers”. You can divide the category can be up into:
Drugs such as Zyprexa, Seroquel and Haldol are meant to reduce symptoms of mental illness.
- Benzodiazepines (Benzos)
Prescription drugs like Xanax, Klonopin, Valium and Librium.
Amytal, Numbutal and Seconal are included in a class of depressants intended as sedatives or sleeping pills.
These kinds of prescription drugs are also called “uppers” or “smart drugs” because of the increase alertness, attention and energy. They also increase heart rate and respiration. Many of these medications are used to combat conditions such as ADHD, including:
Prescription drug abuse has become a big health issue because of the various health hazards. This risk is particularly true of abusing prescription pain medications.
Who abuses prescription drugs?
When asking who are most likely to abuse prescription drugs, the answer may vary depending on the substance. Some people end up participating in prescription drug abuse due to an injury or legitimate health reason, but the “high” they can experience may lead to more frequent use and ultimately a physical dependence.
Recent studies have indicated that prescription drug abuse impacts young adults most; specifically age 18 to 25. In regards to teens, after marijuana and alcohol, prescription drugs are the most common substances of abuse by Americans age 14 and older.
Prescription drug abuse is present across all demographics, relevant to every social and economic class. Many believe this rise has largely contributed to the heroin addiction epidemic and the overdose outbreak in the past few years.
Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment
The Palm Partners Treatment Program has a design for prescription drug abuse intended to address people of all walks of life who are suffering. Personalized recovery programs are meant to work with each individual’s circumstances and symptoms to create a blueprint for the future.
Some of the signs of addiction range in severity and can affect each people differently, especially depending on the specific prescription drug. Increased tolerance is a clear cut sign of progressive physical dependence. Some indicators of prescription drug addiction may be:
- Excessive sweating
- Swelling in the arms and legs
- Chronic constipation
- Respiratory distress
- Slurred speech
- Poor concentration
- High body temperature
- High blood pressure
Treatment for prescription drug addiction includes a detox period to help combat the uncomfortable symptoms of prescription drug addiction, as well as withdrawal.
For all those who are struggling with prescription drug abuse, or even abusing other drugs or medications, there is a massive community of recovery all over the country to help you get the care you need. Treatment for prescription drug abuse can be the first and most important step, so be sure to step up.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
A new report states that more than 10,000 American toddlers ages 2 or 3 years old are being medicated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) which leads many experts to question if giving toddlers this kind of medication is safe. According to pediatric guidelines, ADHD medication like Ritalin and Adderall should not be given to children before the age of 4.
There has always been wide criticism of prescribing ADHD medication in young children. Typically, children in their earliest stages of life tend to be full of energy, very curious and adventurous. Diagnosing toddlers at such a young age is controversial due to the fact that it is hard to tell if the child’s behavior is an actual condition or just a part of growing up.
For now, we still do not know for sure if these medications provide any real benefit at such a young age. What we do know, however, is that medications like ADHD can have serious side effects. They interfere with sleep and suppress appetite. Because toddlers typically need large amounts of sleep for proper development, giving medication that promotes an irregular sleep schedule can be incredibly problematic.
The report also discovered that toddlers who were covered by Medicaid insurance were especially prone to be put on medication like Ritalin and Adderall. They were also the most likely to be diagnosed with ADHD below the age of 4. The data was presented at the Georgia Mental Health Forum at the Carter Center in Atlanta, and several outside experts strongly criticized the use of ADHD medication in children that young.
Even more concerning, the Academy of Pediatric does not even address the diagnosis of ADHD in children under 3 years old, let alone even mention the use of stimulant medications for children this young. The safety and effectiveness of these drugs have barely been explored in that age group.
“It’s absolutely shocking, and it shouldn’t be happening,” said Anita Zervigon-Hakes, a children’s mental health consultant to the Carter Center. “People are just feeling around in the dark. We obviously don’t have our act together for little children.”
This is not the first time ADHD diagnoses for children this young were criticized. Last year, a nationwide C.D.C. survey found that 11 percent of children ages 4 to 17 have received a diagnosis of this disorder and one and five will get one during childhood.
The most commonly prescribed medications are Ritalin or Amphetamines. While these drugs may calm a child’s hyperactivity and impulsivity, it also carries the risk of growth suppression, insomnia and hallucinations.
Furthermore, very few scientific studies have examined the use of stimulant medications in young children. One study conducted in 2006 found that ADHD medications could reduce hyperactive symptoms in children however that study only studied about a dozen 3-year-olds and no 2-year-old. Also, the research was sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health, had significant financial ties to pharmaceutical companies that made ADHD medications.
Still, many doctors stated that they understood using stimulant medication in toddlers under rare circumstances. There are often cases in which nothing would calm a toddler down who was harm to himself or others. as stated by Keith Conners, a psychologist and professor at Duke University.
While there are some extreme cases that stimulants may be beneficial for, Dr. Doris Greenberg, a behavioral pediatrician in Savannah, Ga., who also attended the presentation, is certain that there should not be 10,000 such cases in the United States per year.
“Some of these kids are having really legitimate problems,” Dr. Greenberg said. “But you also have overwhelmed parents who can’t cope and the doctor prescribes as a knee-jerk reaction. You have children with depression or anxiety who can present the same way, and these medications can just make those problems worse.”
In the presentation, many doctors suggested that children could be suffering from anxiety symptoms that are not being addressed in the right manner. Rather, parents are going to their doctors out of desperation to find some sort of solution. While, ADHD medication may be useful in some cases, more often than not, other options should be explored?
What do you think? Is it safe to prescribe drugs like this to children at such an early age? Ultimately, it is up to the parent of these children to make that personal decision. With all the media focus on prescription drugs, it would be advisable to take caution and become informed when making decisions involving taking drugs like this for long periods of time. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 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.
By Cheryl Steinberg
I was officially diagnosed with ADD/ADHD near the end of my middle school career. I remember my parents wanting to make sure that I had “documentation” of my diagnosis before I went to high school; I was on the path to a competitive science- and technology-based high school in my county – one that I couldn’t attend unless I passed a grueling entrance exam that heavily emphasized knowledge in those two areas, areas that, growing up female, caused me anxiety as I thought I was “no good” at those kinds of things. The documentation would allow me certain accommodations. One in particular was un-timed tests. This would come in handy for that daunting entrance exam.
I have an older brother who, practically from birth, displayed extreme hyperactive and impulsive behaviors – ones that he pretty much took out on me. As a girl, my ADD/ADHD manifested itself differently: I wasn’t so much hyper as distractible, taking way longer than my peers to complete tasks and assignments. In fact, in-class assignments were the bane of my existence. There were countless times I would come home from school with a book bag full of papers at the top of which my teachers had written “Incomplete” in glaring red ink.
Throughout high school and college, I would intermittently take my prescribed ADD medication, first Ritalin, later Dexedrine and then Adderall: all the usual suspects when it comes to “smart drugs.” I didn’t like the way amphetamines made me feel and so I stopped taking them as prescribed and would only take them as needed, such as when I had an exam to cram for or if I had to pull an all-nighter in order to finish a paper.
Fast forward through several years of active addiction, abusing everything from opiates, benzos, cocaine, crack, and even amphetamines, it’s now been two and a half years since I went to treatment and decided to turn my life around.
Two and a half years and, although my health has returned in many ways, I’m still considered “shot out” when it comes to my memory – or lack thereof.
Memory Problems: ADHD Drugs or PAWS?
In treatment, I learned about PAWS – Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome – a set of symptoms that can affect you physically as well as mentally, specifically, your cognitive abilities, one of which being memory.
I learned how PAWS can affect former drug users for as long as two years after their last use but, that PAWS symptoms could return at any point over the course of their entire lifetime.
I struggle to remember names and even faces, often re-introducing myself to someone two and even three times, not realizing that we’ve already met and even had conversations before. As you can imagine, this is quite embarrassing. Other indications of my memory issues are that I often re-tell the same stories to the same people – more than once – and I also simply lack memories; everything is pretty hazy.
Well, a new study showed that, over time, cognitive enhancing substances, such as so-called smart drugs – or study drugs, can have a negative impact on the brain’s plasticity; the same drugs that could give students a “leg up” could also have long-term negative consequences on their memory.
New research published in the journal Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience indicated that ADHD drugs can affect the brain’s plasticity, which negatively impacts people’s ability to switch between tasks, plan ahead, and be flexible in their overall behaviors. Rat studies on Methylphenidate, otherwise known as Ritalin and Concerta, show that even low doses of the drug can harm memory and complex learning abilities.
The study also examined the use of ampakines, which are currently being studied by the military to increase alertness. Researchers found that the drugs can be particularly harmful for young people, resulting in an overstimulated nervous system that can actually kill nerve cells. But despite this, the authors of the study wrote that “the desire for development of cognitive enhancing substances is unlikely to diminish with time; it may represent the next stage in evolution – man’s desire for self-improvement driving artificial enhancement of innate abilities.”
Often times, people who are prescribed powerful medications such as amphetamines or painkillers for legitimate reasons then become physically and psychologically dependent on them. If you are abusing your prescribed drugs or any other substances and want help getting out of the cycle, we’re here for you. Call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist who can answer your questions.