In a new study examining the rate of calls to poison control centers around the U.S., researchers found a 76 percent increase in calls related to overdosing of medications prescribed for attention deficit disorder (ADHD). Prescriptions for ADHD medications rose approximately 80 percent within the same time period.
The study was conducted by researchers at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and looked at call center data collected from 1998 to 2005 by the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
The researchers found that calls rose from 317 in 1998 to 581 calls by 2005, an increase of approximately 76 percent.
According to the study, approximately 42 percent of teenagers who called the poison control centers had moderate to severe side-effects. The researchers reported that most ended up getting emergency-room treatment for the side-effects.
According to study author Dr. Randall Bond, medical director of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Drug and Poison Information Center, “The true number of teen abusers who have bad side effects is likely much higher, because many cases don’t result in calls to poison control centers.”
The rise in calls to the poison control centers corresponds with the increase in prescriptions of the stimulant medications most often prescribed to treat attention deficit disorder in children and teenagers. Because the rates are similar, the data is within the expected range of such an increase.
Some children and teens take ADHD drugs that may not be prescribed for them in order to get high or increase their alertness or attention. Teens may not realize that misuse of the drugs can cause serious, unintended side-effects, including agitation, rapid heartbeat, and extremely high blood pressure.
The study is published in the most recent issue of the journal Pediatrics.