Dextroamphetamine: Usage trends

Last modified: Saturday, 30. May 2009 - 3:19 pm

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that there were approximately 900,000 Americans age 12 and older misusing prescription stimulants in 1999. Because of its popularity as a treatment for ADHD, adolescents are at a special risk for misusing dextroamphetamine drugs.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the number of prescriptions written for ADHD medications quadrupled between 1989 and 1998. And in 1999, both Adderall and Dexedrine were ranked among the top 200 for number of new drug prescriptions, ranking 59 (4,140 new prescriptions) and 169 (1,735 new prescriptions), respectively. Adderall accounted for $155.7 million in U.S. pharmaceutical sales in 1999.
Scope and severity
Amphetamine abuse is one of the most significant global drug problems. According to the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (UNDC-CP), by the late 1990s, an estimated 29 million people worldwide were taking amphetamines — a larger group than cocaine and all opiate drugs combined.
In 2000, 922 emergency room visits related to dextroamphetamine use were reported to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN). Amphetamines in general (excluding methamphetamines) were the seventh most reported drug for emergency room visits among children aged 6 to 17, and eighth most reported among patients aged 18 to 34. Amphetamines were also among the top 15 most-reported drugs for emergency department visits among women, accounting for 2.43% of the total female admissions.
Age, ethnic, and gender trends
There have been a number of anecdotal reports of illicit use of Dexedrine, Adderall, Ritalin (methyl-phenidate), and other ADHD stimulants among college students in recent years. In 2000, University of Wisconsin health officials estimated that one in five of their students were using ADHD stimulant medications without a doctor’s prescription.
Although a slight rise in the popularity of amphetamines occured in the 1990s in the United States, amphetamine use (excluding methamphetamines) in the United States seems to have leveled off in recent years. The 2001 “Monitoring the Future” study, an annual survey of drug use among adolescents and young adults performed by the University of Michigan and the NIDA, reports that between 1991 and 2000, overall amphetamine use among high school students, college students, and young adults has declined.
Stimulant “sharing” of prescription dextroampheta-mines and other ADHD medications is also a problem among adolescents. A Canadian study published in 2001 found that 15% of children who used stimulants for medical purposes reported giving these drugs to peers, while 7% had sold their stimulants at some point. Theft of medication was also a problem, with 4.3% having ADHD drugs stolen, and another 3% reporting being coerced out of medication at some point.
In the United States, a 1998 study of Wisconsin children who were prescribed Ritalin for the treatment of ADHD reported that 16% of the children in the study had been asked to sell or share their medication. Security was also an issue, with 37% of schools reporting that stimulants were stored in an unlocked space and 10% of children being allowed to carry and administer their own medication.
The 2000 “Monitoring the Future” report found that 10% of eighth graders have tried prescription amphetamines, with 3.4% reporting use of the drugs in the prior month. Amphetamine use was highest among white high school students in comparison to African-American and Hispanic high school students. Adolescent girls were also more likely to abuse amphetamines than boys. This trend reversed in the older subjects surveyed, with males aged 19 to 32 reporting slightly higher use of amphetamines than females of the same age group.
Among 40-year-olds included in a follow-up of the study, 53% had tried amphetamines at some point in their lifetime. However, only 1% reported use of the drugs in the past year.

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