Overdoses on ADHD Drugs on the Rise

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Overdoses on ADHD Drugs on the Rise

The number of U.S. kids overdosing on drugs prescribed for ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) is on the rise, according to recent findings.

A new study, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, revealed a 71 percent increase in calls to U.S. poison control centers related to kids’ ingestion of ADHD drugs. And while most cases were accidental – for example, young kids getting their hands on Ritalin or Adderall or kids mistakenly given a double dose of their prescription – 18 percent of the calls were intentional overdoses by teens looking to get high or commit suicide.

This is pretty scary, considering that roughly 69 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD take medicine for their condition. So how can a parent keep his or her kids safe? According to the Chicago Tribune, Henry A. Spiller, one of the study’s authors and director of the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, says it depends on the age group.

  • For preschoolers, up to 5 year olds: Lock up medication and and keep it out of reach.
  • For school-age children, 6-12: Plan medication dosing properly, to avoid both parents giving child medication and/or the school nurse and parent administering the meds.
  • For teens, 13-19: Keep a close eye on medication count and be on the lookout for missing pills.


“Parents may not know how dangerous this medication can be because they get it from the pediatrician and give it to their child every day,” Spiller told the Chicago Tribune. “We want parents to know that as their child is growing and changing, the risks of the medication change as well.”

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