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
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
High Score or scoring a high?
Drug testing has found its way into a variety of demographics in the pro sports world. From football to mixed martial arts sports franchises have actively implemented drug testing policies this year which call for more rigorous testing tactics, and many athletes on different fields have been put in the spotlight for abusing substances both recreational and performance enhancing.
Surprisingly, we are now going to start seeing this practice being carrying over into so-called e-sports, putting those who play video games professionally in the same position.
Despite the typical stereotype we consider about most pro gamers, and how we don’t initially imagine them to be all that athletically inclined, this week The Electronic Sports League (ESL) announced it will be enacting a drug testing policy for performance enhancing substances at future events.
The Game Changer
So why would they drug test gamers if they aren’t physically required to compete beyond the control of their counsels?
The inspiration behind this new initiative to make drug testing policies all came after a top professional player for the game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive named Cory “Semphis” Friesen admitted last week that he and other members of his former team used Adderall during a tournament. During an interview after a big victory Semphis was quoted as saying:
“I don’t even care. We were all on Adderall. I don’t even give a ****. It was pretty obvious, like if you listen to the comms. People can hate it or whatever.”
The event was a tournament last March in Poland, and there was a whopping $250,000 up for grabs to gamers able to handle their high-scores! That is a pretty decent sized award for button-mashing, so the fact he and his team were on drugs during the game has some people a little upset. Not to mention Semphis’s complete disregard for the concerns brought forth by others.
This isn’t the first time these kinds of blatant comments about abusing ‘smart drugs’ has happened in pro gaming either.
A prescription psychostimulant, Adderall is administered to help people with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is also not uncommon for this drug to be abused, and it is very hazardous to those who misuse it.
Because Adderall is designed to enhance cognitive abilities and improve focus, so in terms of a sport where you rely heavily on hand-eye coordination, along with other cognitive function it can be assumed this kind of drug would enable the attention to detail and instantaneous reaction times that it takes to excel in the field of competitive gaming. So it could truly be considered a performance enhancing drug in this context.
Even more disturbing is the way the interviewer so nonchalantly promoted abusing drugs in his commentary, stating:
“Everyone does Adderall at [the gaming competition] ESEA LAN. Just throwing that out there for the fans. It’s how you get good.”
Yea… way to go. Tell the kids at home all it takes to get good enough to make big money playing Call of Duty is to pop pills… because that’s totally smart.
The Future of Gaming
Anna Rozwandowicz is the ESL Head of Communications, and in a recent email she pointed out a few of the focus points, and told reporters more details of the new policy will be shared soon, but that it will involve:
- Drugs policing
- Prevention among participants
At this point Semphis and his team aren’t actually in any danger, because there is no way to prove they were under the influence of any substance since ESL didn’t have formal drug use policies at the time. Rozwandowicz said,
“We have no way of knowing whether Semphis, despite what he said, has actually taken Adderall or not. We can’t punish someone if we are not 100% sure he is guilty. And as we have no way to test it anymore, we won’t take action in this specific case.”
It’s unclear how ESL’s plans for drug testing will affect other organizations in the gaming world, but so far The Cologne, Germany-based organization said the random drug tests would begin at its ESL One Cologne tournament in August.
As this story develops, one can’t help but wonder how people can be so intent on finding ways to cheat their way through a competition. Then there is the wonder of how many gamers have ended up addiction to a harmful substance just to get a leg-up in a tournament.
Now on the flip side some researchers are even questioning how effective these ‘smart drugs’ really are, and at the end of the day drug abuse takes far more from our lives than it could EVER give us. Lives are lost every day, and those who are able to survive often struggle to do so. But there is a solution. 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.
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
Enough sleep? Really, is there even such a thing? I swear I could take nap right now, but I guess I’m here to work and stuff…
Some say a well spent day brings happy sleep, others say there ain’t no rest for the wicked. Well it seems to be a fact of our society today that nobody gets ‘enough’ sleep… nobody. The search for enough sleep is now a collective obsession, something that we talk about throughout the day and beg for first thing every morning. Snooze button is the new life-support.
But while some of us try to get home earlier and lay down quicker, others are relying on downers and stimulants to regulate their rest, and that is so much more dangerous than it is effective.
Health Risks of Insomnia
Sleep deficiency has all types of negative impacts on the world. It causes various problems such as:
- Fatal road accidents
- Costly drain on the workforce
- Struggling students at school
- Substance abuse
The list goes on and on, and while other issues like ADHD, obesity, and bad skin used to be attributed to diet, new studies suggest they might be due to insomnia. A recent study determined that weight gain might have less to do with what we eat, and more with the time of the day we eat it, which can be controlled by our sleep patterns.
We have almost taught ourselves into a tired existence sustained with coffee, energy drinks and prescription medication, and the insanity of insomnia is changing our world.
Under-Over of Average American Sleep
According to some experts the average full sleep-cycle these days
ranges from 70 to 120 minutes,
not eight hours, while we train our kids to sleep for long period of time. When considering the fact we are taught as children to sleep on a specific schedule, it becomes apparent that sleep as we know it is actually a learned, social habit more so than an innate biological function.
Sleep averages and habits are different around the world depending on the culture.
- In many Asian countries, co-sleeping among family members is the norm.
- In New Guinea, it’s common for men to sleep in male sleeping quarters; women and children are on their own.
- Mediterranean countries have workdays, meals and bedtimes that start later than the average American.
The household has another influence on our sleep. There are various aspects of our family and home lives that contribute to the struggle today, such as:
- Larger number of people live alone.
- Multi-generational families sharing a home have become a norm.
- Separately sleeping couples are increasingly common.
Naps Not Drugs
As mentioned before, it has become too common these days that we rely on medications, prescription or otherwise, to help us get the sleep we so desperately need. As a society we are openly accepting a life-style where we pump ourselves full of uppers in the morning (how much do we love our coffee… yes, yes we do) and a lot of us winding down with downers at night to help us get to sleep.
But this isn’t making the problem any better. Just like we trained ourselves to sleep 8 hours instead of 2 separate sleep periods, and just like we have trained ourselves to sleep different times for different shifts or different cultures, we are training ourselves to be exhausted and artificially energized, which is doing some serious damage to our bodies. That is especially true for the drug user who takes a stimulant in the morning and an opiate in the evening with the excuse that sleep is only obtainable that way.
How do we change this in the search for enough sleep? Well one thing we should definitely take into consideration is something most of us have known about since we were infants… nap time! Some experts say that we had it right with the ancient way of dispersing our sleep throughout the day, giving ourselves time between tasks and activities to recharge. Some suggest that instead of relying on a chemical conditioning to inappropriate sleep patterns, maybe we should try and find a way to rest over selves throughout the course of a day. I’ll advocate for that.
So maybe next time you want to pop a pill or buy a jumbo-amplified can of liquid poison energy, maybe just take a nap. As a matter of fact, as I yawn while writing this, just put your head on the keyboard at work and drift awayyydfhghgdkjghd.
All jokes aside, getting a healthy sleep regiment for yourself is important to your mental and physical health, and while it is relevant to note that our culture and our careers take a toll, it is still possible to give yourself some breathing room and rest. In active addiction this can be next to impossible, and if you get any sleep it’s definitely not quality sleep, but cut yourself a break and get the rest time you need to change. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, 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.