Calls to poison control centers about teens abusing attention-deficit drugs soared 76% over eight years, a new study shows, highlighting the dangerous consequences of prescription abuse. The calls were from worried parents, emergency room doctors, and others seeking advice on how to deal with side-effects of ADHD drugs, which can include rapid heartbeat and extremely high blood pressure. Four deaths were among cases evaluated in the study.
The study analyzed Poison Control Center data from 1998 through 2005, over which time the number of ADHD drug calls rose from 330 to 581 yearly. Overall, 42% had moderate to severe side-effects, and most ended up getting emergency-room treatment. Kids take ADHD drugs to get high or increase alertness, often unaware of risks. "They say, 'It's FDA approved, how dangerous could it be?'" says one anti-drug advocate.