A recent New York times article has reported that “The number of young adults who end up in the emergency room after taking Adderall, Ritalin or other such stimulants has quadrupled in recent years,” according to “federal health officials.”

This data comes from a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA), where it is stated that “[emergency room] visits related to nonmedical use of CNS stimulants among adults aged 18 to 34 increased from 5,605 in 2005 to 22,949 in 2011. The

number of ED visits involving CNS stimulants and alcohol also increased.[1]  Each year, about 30 percent of ED visits involving nonmedical CNS stimulant use also involved alcohol.”

With the rate at which young people use these powerful stimulants both recreationally and as a study aid on the rise, federal and local law enforcement agencies have stepped up efforts to control the distribution of non-prescribed ADD/ADHD drugs.  One recent report in The Morning Call describes a case in which a 14-year-old middle school student was found to have been providing Ritalin to a classmate for a month.

Sabrina Tavernise, of the New York Times, reports that, “Misuse of these drugs has been linked to heart and blood vessel problems, as well as to drug abuse or dependence. When combined with alcohol, the stimulants can hide the effects of being drunk, which increases the risk of alcohol poisoning and alcohol-related injuries.”[2]

Though many students with ADD and ADHD require the use of these medications in school, the increased availability of these drugs to children is definitely cause for alarm.

[1] Caffeine-containing energy drinks had a minor effect on the increase in ED visits related to nonmedical use of CNS stimulants because most visits related to energy drinks involve adverse reactions, not nonmedical use. For example, in 2011, 70 percent of energy-drink related visits involved adverse reactions. Please see http://www.samhsa.gov/data/2k13/DAWN126/sr126-energy-drinks-use.pdf.