More teens abusing Adderall, study finds

University of Michigan study finds abuse of ADHD drug has increased despite lower abuse rates of other prescription medicines

NEW YORK — A new study has found a significant increase in the number of high school students who report having abused a common prescription drug for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, even as abuse of other prescription drugs has decreased or remained low.

According to the University of Michigan's annual "Monitoring the Future Study" survey, improper use of Teva's Adderall (amphetamine/dextroamphetamine) has been rising since 2009. Back then, rates of abuse among high school seniors were 5.4%, a figure that rose to 6.5% in 2010 and 2011, and then to 7.6% in 2012. The current rate stands at 7.4%. The survey included about 41,600 teenagers in the eighth through 12th grades.

"The rates of Adderall misuse and abuse among high school seniors remains unacceptably high, and the new data make it very clear: The abuse of all prescription medicines is an immediate threat to the health of America's teens," The Partnership at Drugfree.org president and CEO Steve Pasierb said. "Another year of data and a harsh spotlight specifically on prescription stimulants must serve as a call to all families to address the issue of intentional medicine abuse."

By contrast, abuse of Novartis' Ritalin (methylphenidate), another ADHD drug, was much lower at 2.3%, while abuse of AbbVie's opioid painkiller Vicodin (hydrocodone; acetaminophen) had significantly decreased, from 10.5% in 2003 to 5.3% this year. Abuse of cough medicines containing dextromethorphan also has decreased from 6.9% in 2006 to 5% this year.

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