A.D.H.D. Overdoses Are on the Rise. Why?

New research shows an increase in hospitalizations for pediatric A.D.H.D. medication misuse.

Towfiqu Photography/Getty Images
Towfiqu Photography/Getty Images

Diagnoses of A.D.H.D. have been on the rise for years, rising from 4.4 million juvenile diagnoses in 2003, to 6.1 million in 2016, according to the Center for Disease Control. But along with that rise in diagnoses has come a dramatic increase in A.D.H.D. medication overdoses. Even as our cultural conversation continues to focus on the nation-wide crisis of opioid overdoses, we’re also facing another drug overdose concern, this time surrounding A.D.H.D. meds. 

A recent American Academy of Pediatrics study found that the overall rate of pediatric exposures to A.D.H.D. medications reported at U.S. poison control centers increased 71.6% between 2000 and 2011, decreasing only very slightly over the next four years. And while the majority of instances were related to accidental misuse, 50.2% of adolescent exposures were intentional, including suicide attempts and intentional medication misuse. 

“The increasing number and rate of reported ADHD medication exposures during the study period is consistent with increasing trends in ADHD diagnosis and medication prescribing. Exposures associated with suspected suicide or medication abuse and/or misuse among adolescents are of particular concern,” study authors reported. 

Photo Credit: Towfiqu Photography/Getty Images

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