Over-prescription of ADHD Medicine

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Attention, Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a neurodevelopmental disorder, whose traits are impaired levels of inattention as well as impulsivity. Over the years, ADHD has remained to be the most extensively studied pediatric mental health disorder and yet there is an existing debate concerning the diagnosis and medication of the disorder. Currently, professionals, media commentators, and the general public have raised questions regarding the over-prescription and the effects of ADHD medicine among the youth. Although many children benefit from the appropriate prescription of ADHD medications, the increased rate of over-prescription has contributed to the increased likelihood of long-term mental health problems.

            Numerous studies have indicated that, over the last decades, the rate of ADHD medicine over-prescription has increased. Although, until today, the rate at which an increase in the rate of prescription is considered to be an over-prescription” remains elucidated. Moreover, it is still not clear if people with ADHD receive ADHD medication prescription, regardless of the possible increased rate of prescription. According to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, only the people with a severe form of ADHS such as HKD should receive a prescription of ADHD medication of about 2 percent. Conversely, the DSM manual defines an overtreatment to be between 5.9 percent to 7.1 percent and that this results to unnecessary side effects (Willcutt 490).

ADHD Over-Prescribing

            Over the past years, the United States has experienced a rapid rise of stimulants which has contributed to the concerns by the general public. Additionally, there are also worries concerning the increase in production of ADHD medicine. Research suggests that the rising rate of production is a proof for over-prescription in the United States (Novak et al 32). In 2012, about 5 million individuals who are privately insured used ADHD medication. According to research, this presents a 35 percent increase from 2008. Numerous studies suggest that the disorder may have become a “go-to diagnosis” which hides other issues such as anxiety disorder. ADHD expenditure rose by 14.2 percent- the greatest increase in the drug category.

            For many years, children have been the primary users of ADHD medicine, but recently, the rate of adults using ADHD medicine has increased from 18.9 percent to 53.4 percent from 2008 to 2012 respectively. About two-thirds of the children have been prescribed ADHD medications by primary-care physicians instead of specialists. Many studies suggest that there are gender differences in the use of ADHD medicine (McCabe et al 1176). Male teens aged between 12 and 18 years have been identified to be the most prevalent users of ADHD drugs. After age 18, the prescription decreases. On the other hand, that is when the prescription increases for females of the same age. Boys are treated earlier in their lives because they often display more impulsive symptoms (1176).

            Diversion, as well as misuse of ADHD drugs, has become a growing concern in the recent population. Children have been using ADHD medicines than prescribed, using higher doses, or even giving away their doses to other people. Currently, stimulant medication abuse is more rampant in individuals aged between 12 and 25 years (Benson et al. 50).

Side Effects

            Over-prescription means patients do not benefit from possibly useful medications. Indeed, when ADHD is left untreated, it may cause serious consequences. There is 1.53 risk for untreated children to be unintentionally injured. Furthermore, the rate at which ADHD drivers are engaged in accidents is 1.36 times higher compared to the drivers without ADHD. Consequently, the disorder is associated with an increased mortality rate of 5.85 for every 10,000 people every year due to accidents (Curry et al. 756). Although appropriate prescription of ADHD medicine can reduce these effects, over-prescription can be lethal too.

            In recent years, teens are misusing ADHD drugs as a study aid posing a problem to their health. ADHD’s intense ability to make students concentrate makes it be used as a study aid. A teen becomes a candidate for ADHD medication by complaining about poor attention or an inability to control impulses. Unfortunately, these medicines are also being overprescribed for teens without abnormal behaviors. Teens are acquiring these drugs from people who legitimately need them or buy these medicines without showing symptoms of ADHD. This has resulted to the over-prescription of psychotic as well as addictive drugs that can change the functioning of the brain and cause dependence.

            Most of the ADHD medicines cause addiction, therefore can be continued to be prescribed until adulthood. According to scientists, there is a need for the youth to be taught behavioral skills to help minimize the symptoms of ADHD without the need of using ADHD drugs.    Stimulants have side effects like other medications. Apart from knowing the side effects of the drugs, parents, as well as teachers, should also know how to manage them. The known side effects of ADHD include insomnia, weight loss, as well as extremely focused appearance. Some of the children experience headaches as well as stomach pain. Extremely focused appearance implies a child can move from one task from another without fatigue. Although rarely reported, some children experience dysphoria. When the medication dosage is too high, children appear as if they are bland without emotions. Additionally, when taking stimulants, latent tic disorders can also appear.

            Specific medications pose different risks. For instance, in 2005, the Food and Drug Administration warned against the use of Adderall since it has caused 12 deaths. Extenuating conditions were found in all cases after further investigations. Some of the circumstances include physical exercise as well as Type 1 diabetes. Although the FDA plans to remove the drug from the marketplace, it has placed a warning to people with cardiovascular conditions from using the Adderall. Most importantly, ADHD drugs are not a threat to people who not already have an underlying cardiac risk. But, the explosive growth in prescription has led to more children to use such drugs.

            Recently, children have been abusing ADHD medicines. According to research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 184 visits in the 64 hospitals investigated involved ADHD drugs between 2003 and 2005. Approximately 60 percent of the cases involved children ingesting drugs that were prescribed for other people (McNiel et al 365). The stimulant in the drugs can be potentially be abused since it can produce a cocaine-like high effect. Recent studies suggest that around 10 percent of grade 7 to 12 students have used ADHD drugs that are not theirs.


            If ADHD medicines are used appropriately, they will lead to full recovery of teens who have ADHD. Early treatment is crucial to improving the health of vulnerable children. Healthcare centers should provide ADHD medications only to the teens that need them. Further, physicians should consider a comprehensive assessment with an alternative diagnosis.

Works Cited

Benson, Kari, et al. "Misuse of stimulant medication among college students: a comprehensive            review and meta-analysis." Clinical child and family psychology review 18.1 (2015): 50-          76.

Curry, Allison E., et al. "Motor vehicle crash risk among adolescents and young adults with     attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder." JAMA pediatrics 171.8 (2017): 756-763.

McCabe, Sean Esteban, et al. "Trends in medical use, diversion, and nonmedical use of             prescription medications among college students from 2003 to 2013: Connecting the       dots." Addictive behaviors 39.7 (2014): 1176-1182.

McNiel, Amanda D., et al. "The nonmedical use of prescription stimulants among dental and       dental hygiene students." Journal of Dental Education 75.3 (2011): 365-376.

Novak, Scott P., et al. "The nonmedical use of prescription ADHD medications: results from a national Internet panel." Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy 2.1 (2007):            32. 

Willcutt, Erik G. "The prevalence of DSM-IV attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a meta-   analytic review." Neurotherapeutics 9.3 (2012): 490-499.

August 21, 2023



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