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05-23 Unintentional and accidental exposure to stimulants among US teens on the rise, says study

Unintentional and accidental exposure to stimulants among US teens on the rise, says study

The use of stimulant drugs, most frequently abused by teens, has risen in recent years. This trend is one of the major causes behind drug overdose cases among American teens. Often prescribed to teens for fatigue, sleep disorders or depression, stimulant drugs are also prescribed for treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). According to a recent study published in May 2018, there has been over 60 percent increase in the unnecessary and accidental use of ADHD medications among teens in the U.S. For their study, the researchers looked at exposure to commonly used ADHD medications like methylphenidate (Ritalin), amphetamine (Adderall), atomoxetine and modafinil. These ADHD medications work by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain’s prefrontal cortex critical for decision-making and social control.

During a span of 15 years from 2000 to 2014, the U.S. poison control centers reported 156,365 exposure cases, out of which methylphenidate accounted for 46.2 percent exposures while amphetamine medications accounted for 44.5 percent exposures. Among the calls received, 82 percent were because of unintentional exposure and 18 percent due to intentional exposure. Exposure was defined as unnecessary inhalation, ingestion or absorption of ADHD medications. As per the study authors, therapeutic errors were the most common cause of exposure to intentional medication, accounting for 50.2 percent exposures among American teens (aged 13-19 years), but sadly, only 6.2 percent received medical treatment at a hospital.

According to Dr. Gary A. Smith, the co-author of the study and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, given the effectiveness of these medications in improving ADHD symptoms, there is a subsequent increase in their prescriptions and rise in both accidental and voluntary exposure to them. He added that students frequently abuse stimulants to get through an exam or to simply get a high.

Why do teens abuse stimulants

For some teens, stimulant abuse often starts with legitimate prescriptions while others end up abusing them for experimental purposes. Over the time, many of these children end up developing dependence or addiction to the substances. One of the factors behind the addictive nature of stimulants is their ability to activate dopamine in the brain and generate feeling of euphoria.

When taken as per prescription, stimulants help in treating mental disorders like ADHD; however, when abused or taken recreationally, these drugs can cause serious problems such as aggressiveness, rapid heart rate, hallucinations and sleep difficulties among teens. Stimulant abuse can also result in a teen experiencing mental and emotional exhaustion or suicidal thoughts. Discontinuing their use suddenly can lead to uncomfortable drug withdrawal symptoms.

According to the National Rifle Association incoming president Oliver North, many of the young American boys have been on Ritalin since kindergarten. As per him, Ritalin (commonly used to treat ADHD) is partly to be blamed for increasing gun violence in the U.S.

Treating stimulant drug abuse among teens

If your teen is suffering from addiction to stimulants, it’s time to get him/her professional support. The sooner he/she gets the treatment, the better are the chances of recovery. At Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego, we specialize in treating various substance abuse disorders in teen boys and girls (aged 12-17). Treatment for addiction to stimulants at our centers combines behavioral treatments along with experiential therapies. Basis an individual’s symptom and medical history, all patients receive a personalized treatment plan suited to their needs. We also educate our patients about substance abuse and how to identify potential triggers to prepare them for life after treatment. For more information on our teen stimulant abuse treatment program, call us at our 24/7 helpline number or chat live online with our representatives.

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