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Study Finds Increase in Number of ER Visits from Misuse of ADHD Stimulants by Young Adults

TUESDAY, Jan. 29 (HealthDay News) -- From 2005 to 2010, there was an increase in the number of emergency department visits involving attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) stimulant medications, with the number of visits increasing significantly among adults aged 18 years or older, according to a study published online Jan. 24 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Researchers from SAMHSA in Rockville, Md., used data from the Drug Abuse Warning Network surveillance system to examine trends in emergency department visits involving ADHD stimulant medications from 2005 to 2010.

The researchers found that, from 2005 to 2010, there was an increase in the number of emergency department visits involving ADHD stimulant medications, from 13,379 to 31,244 visits. The increase was significant among adults aged 18 years and older, but no significant increases were observed for children (aged younger than 18). The number of emergency department visits related to ADHD stimulant medications that involved nonmedical use increased from 5,212 in 2005 to 15,585 in 2010. During the same period, the number of visits involving adverse reactions increased from 5,085 to 9,181. In 45 percent of all emergency department visits involving ADHD stimulant medications, other pharmaceutical drugs were involved, while illicit drugs and alcohol were involved in 21 and 19 percent, respectively.

"This report shows that emergency department visits for nonmedical use have not increased among children and adolescents, but they have increased among adults aged 18 or older," the authors write. "This suggests a need for increased attention toward efforts to prevent diversion and misuse among adults."

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