Over the years, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has become a more commonly diagnosed mental illness in children. Opinions have differed over the decades about proper treatment of the illness in children and the amount and types of medication that they should be prescribed. A recent study by a group of Scandinavian researchers revealed that over the past seven years, the use of these ADHD medications has increased tremendously. Are more children being diagnosed with ADHD? Are people requesting prescription refills only to abuse certain stimulants? The report reveals to researchers, doctors, and parents that the use of ADHD stimulants is on the rise.
Why Are Cases Of ADHD Increasing?
This new study is currently the largest longitudinal study to track the rise in the use of ADHD medications, according to Harold S. Koplewicz, MD, Editor-in-Chief of JCAP. The research was led by Søren Dalsgaard, MD, PhD, Helena Skyt Nielsen, PhD, and Marianne Simonsen, PhD. The researchers followed more than 850,000 Norwegian children born between 1990 and 2001 on the presence of psychiatric disorders and their treatment with medications.
Medications such as atomoxetine, dexamphetamine, and methylphenidate were used the most by the participants in the study. One or more of these medications was used by the 61 percent of children with ADHD, 16 percent with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and three percent with other psychiatric disorders.
As researchers analyzed the changes in types of treatment for the children, they found that prescription rates were rising. Between 2003 and 2010 there was a five-fold increase in the amount of prescriptions for children written for these three medications.
This study analyzed the different medications used by children with ADHD, ASD, and other psychiatric disorders and how much of those medications were being given to children over the years. Other studies speculate on why some of these types of prescriptions are increasing.
Many other recent studies report on the abuse of prescription drugs. As children age, some hear that ADHD stimulant treatments can help them focus better on their homework and on school tests. Some begin to ask for higher doses to try and keep up with the increasing demands of school work. Some children or parents of the children even get double doses by getting prescriptions from different doctors who are not aware of their abuse. Others hand out their medications to friends (who don’t have ADHD) who want to use them solely for the chance to better focus on academics.
Studies report on the many teens that are using prescription drugs that were given to them by friends or a family member—youth who are taking risks with their health by taking medicine without any supervision by a doctor. As research statistics point to the increase in these prescription rates doctors and families are taking notice.
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