Official data shows that Adderall use exploded during the pandemic, with one in five teens in America being prescribed the powerful stimulant.
Medications for ADHD have become increasingly popular in recent years, but the relaxation of online prescribing rules during the pandemic has put them within easy reach with just a few clicks of a button.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Stady Today showed that the biggest rise in new prescriptions was among women in their 20s, with texts up by about a fifth from 2020 to 2021. Across all ages and genders, texts have increased by about eight percent in that time.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that six percent of women ages 20 to 24 now take medication. The group most likely to be prescribed ADHD medication is still teenage boys 10 to 14 – about 10 per cent – but that’s largely unchanged from before Covid.
The graphs above show that across all years, the percentages of registered males and females with one or more prescription steroid fillers were highest among those ages 5-19 and 15-24 years, respectively.
The rate of women in their 20s who take prescription ADHD medications such as Adderall increased nearly 20% from 2020 to 2021. Among adult men ages 30-39, that rate jumped nearly 15% in that time.
Prescriptions for Adderall have skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. In February 2020, before the virus appeared across America, the drug made up 1.1% of drugs. By September 2022, the number had doubled to 2.31% of all written texts
The CDC analyzed health insurance records dating back to 2016 and found that more than 4 percent of people ages 5 to 64 filled a prescription for steroids in 2021, up from 3.8 percent in 2020.
Meanwhile, health research firm IQVIA estimates that the country is covered in prescription ADHD medications. In 2021, more than 41 million Americans had a prescription for Adderall or its generic version, which equates to one in eight, leading critics to accuse doctors of overprescribing the drug.
In the UK, for example, the use of ADHD medication is about 0.05 percent of the population.
As prescriptions have risen in recent years, concerns have arisen that the condition is being underdiagnosed in the United States, leading to overprescribing and the host of side effects that come with ADHD medications, including insomnia, poor appetite and headaches.
The COVID pandemic has put a spotlight on mental illness as millions of people have been thrust into a much narrower world of isolation from friends, family and even treatment resources that might have kept them afloat before the outbreak in March 2020.
Along with the increased awareness of mental illness in the last several years, more lenient prescribing practices have emerged that have been implemented to facilitate access to healthcare while trying to prevent the spread of Covid.
This means that people who may not fit the ADHD diagnosis are often still able to get the stimulants prescribed by their doctor via video chat or phone call.
One Washington mother blamed indulgent prescriptions brought in during the Covid pandemic for her son Elijah’s suicide last year. The young man who died at 21 had been abusing Adderall in the months leading up to his death.
Elijah Hanson (pictured), 21, died by suicide in June. He has struggled with mental health issues for years. His family said a recent Adderall prescription he got through Cerebral played a role in his death
Hanson (pictured) was playing Russian Roulette with a gun kept in the house when he died by suicide. His mother later found his dead body in her kitchen
His mother, Kelly Rasmussen, said that although her son did not have ADHD, he was able to get a prescription online despite mental health startup Cerebral by lying to telehealth providers — even though Although he had previously suffered from other problems. mental health issues.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common disorders affecting a child’s neurodevelopment. It is usually diagnosed in childhood, but recent years have seen an increase in adult diagnoses.
Neuroscientists have not identified a cause for ADHD, although it is believed that genes play a major role.
The initial symptoms of ADHD, which usually appear before the age of 12, include inattention and hyper-impulsive behavior. People with ADHD may be constantly agitated, unable to focus on a specific task, talk excessively, interrupt others, and be easily distracted, among other symptoms.
Stimulants are the medications most commonly used to treat ADHD because they increase levels of dopamine, a neurochemical key to focus and sustained focus by slowing how much it is reabsorbed into the neurons that produced it in the first place.
By slowing dopamine reuptake, the neurotransmitter has more time to travel from neuron to neuron that transmits information and eventually binds to the receptor, helping messages within the brain to be transmitted and received more effectively.
This improves communication in the parts of the brain that produce dopamine and norepinephrine, a chemical that helps a person stay awake, pay attention, and think clearly.
ADHD medications are generally very effective and in many cases are critical to people’s academic and social success and development. between 70 and 80 percent of patients When you take ADHD medications, you experience fewer or milder symptoms.
The most popular ADHD medications are Adderall and Ritalin. In addition to being a trusted drug for people with the condition, Adderall is also popular as a club or party drug.
The drug is a combination of two stimulants, dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. It’s very effective in treating symptoms of ADHD, but it’s also known for the high it produces.
The rate of women in their 20s taking prescriptions for ADHD medications like Adderall increased about 20 percent from 2020 to 2021, while among adult men ages 30 to 39 that rate jumped nearly 15 percent.
The CDC study said: ‘The combination of a potentially increased need and reduced barriers to accessing prescription stimulants (during Covid) may have encouraged more adults with symptoms of ADHD to seek diagnosis and treatment.
Although improving access to ADHD care through telehealth during the pandemic may have benefited some people with ADHD symptoms, it may also have introduced the possibility of inadequate ADHD assessments. Attention and description of inappropriate stimuli.
Nearly 10 percent of teenage boys were taking ADHD medication in 2020 and 2021, although that rate actually decreased by about 2 percent.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report: “The largest single-year increases occurred during 2020-2021, with the annual change exceeding 10% in many age groups.”
Telehealth exploded during the pandemic when most businesses closed or had limited business hours and people wanted to avoid exposure to the virus by going to see doctors in person.
The expansion of telehealth has also been a big win for people who live in rural communities or low-income areas where quality health care is scarce.
A pandemic-era loosening of telehealth rules has given rise to companies like Cerebral, which is currently in a legal hot spot over its tendency to dispense stimulant prescriptions without properly screening patients to make sure the drugs weren’t being misused by someone who didn’t. I need them.
Adderall prescriptions have increased steadily over the past 12 years. The numbers include prescriptions for both Adderall, brand and generic, in the United States
Earlier this year, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) expressed concern that “aggressive marketing practices” by telehealth companies may be contributing to overprescribing of ADHD medications.
About a month after the DEA expressed its concerns, the Biden administration proposed tighter rules for prescribing ADHD medications online in addition to the opioid addiction treatment buprenorphine.
Under the new rules, patients will have to meet with prescribers in person first or be referred by a doctor they met in person.
In 1990, fewer than 950,000 children ages 5 to 18 were diagnosed with ADHD. By 2016, that number had swelled to more than six million. And with this increase in diagnoses came an increase in prescriptions of medications, especially stimulants, to treat symptoms.
Of those 6 million children with ADHD, more than 3.7 million are receiving treatment in the form of medication. Compare that to 1990, when nearly 600,000 children were taking medications for ADHD.
Ritalin has much in common with Adderall in that it stimulates norepinephrine and dopamine activity in the brain. But the drugs differ in their composition and how they work. The main ingredient of Ritalin is methylphenidate hydrochloride (MPH). It works quickly and reaches peak performance earlier than Adderall, which stays in the system longer.
It also has similar side effects, including insomnia, decreased appetite, headaches, and high blood pressure in some cases. The shorter duration that Ritalin remains active in the body combined with the high that generally produces the effects of amphetamines means that people are more likely to abuse Ritalin than Adderall.
While Adderall is very popular in the United States — approximately 41 million Americans have a prescription — it is heavily restricted in the United Kingdom with relatively few doctors prescribing it and is completely banned in Japan.
The NHS distributed a total of 2.23 million ADHD medicines alone from July 2021 to June 2022.
A pandemic boom in new prescriptions has contributed to persistent nationwide Adderall shortages, leaving children unable to focus and behave in school, according to parents across the United States.
The Sam Davidson, Massachusetts-based mom-of-four described how difficult it was for her seven-year-old son to do well in school after not getting his general shape from Adderall.
‘Today, I read an e-mail about his increasing silliness and inability to pay attention,’ said Ms Davidson. He blurs out answers, distracts peers into small groups, and has trouble completing tasks.
“And while it was disappointing, the email wasn’t surprising…my son has been without a prescription for four days in a row, which has taken a huge toll.”