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Overdoses on ADHD Drugs on the Rise

ADHD drugs

Hospitalizations and overdoses related to ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) are on the rise. And the victims are mostly kids.

According to data from U.S. poison control centers, there were more than 156,000 reported cases related to ADHD drugs (like Adderall, Ritalin and Vyvanse) between 2000 and 2014. And the number of calls increased from 7,018 in 2000 to 11,486 in 2014 – a 64 percent increase.

Roughly 42 percent of the cases were caused by medication error – for instance, a young child without ADHD getting into an unsecured medication bottle or a child accidentally taking a follow-up dose too soon. Drug abuse and attempted suicide accounted for more than half of the exposures for adolescents, ages 13 to 19. And one in four of all exposures involved those 12 years old and younger. The study’s authors define “exposure” as unnecessary ingestion, inhalation or absorption of these medications.

So what’s behind this startling increase? For one, more kids are being diagnosed and treated for ADHD than ever before. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 6.1 million children, ages 2 to 17, were diagnosed with ADHD as of 2016 – with steady rises between the start of the millennium and 2012. And roughly 69 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD take medicine for their condition.

This study certainly emphasizes the need for parents to not only properly secure medication but also to educate their kids on the dangers of misuse, Jennifer Ashton, MD, who serves as the Chief Medical Correspondent for “Good Morning America,” told ADDitude Magazine.

When properly prescribed and administered, ADHD medications have been shown to be highly safe and effective – but they are also stimulants and have side effects and an increased risk of dependence and/or abuse, Dr. Ashton told “Good Morning America.”

So how do you minimize the risk of your child abusing and/or sharing these meds? Here are some pointers adapted from the national organization Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD):

  • Make sure your child understands that he or she is taking a controlled substance that is illegal to all others.
  • Talk to your child about using the medication only for its prescribed and intended purpose.
  • Educate your child about how ADHD meds can interact with other substances.
  • Make sure your child understands the need to keep medication safeguarded inside prescription containers.
  • Stress the importance of reporting any side effects to you and your treating physician.
  • Work with your child’s doctor to develop a solid medication plan for home and at school. And revisit the plan if your child goes away for college.

Find Out About Our Family Interventions
If you suspect that your child is abusing ADHD medication and/or other drugs, we can help. Take the first step today and contact us to set up an initial consultation/evaluation to discuss all the options for you and your family. Call today: 305-595-7378.

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