HealthDay News — From 2005 to 2010, there was an increase in the number of emergency department visits involving attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) stimulant medications, particularly among adults aged 18 and older, data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicate.

The total number of ED visits attributable to ADHD stimulant medications in the Drug Abuse Warning Network surveillance system from 13,379 in 2005 to 31,244 in 2010.

Overall, half of ADHD stimulant medication-related ED visits in 2010 involved nonmedical use of pharmaceuticals, and nearly one third involved adverse drug reactions. The number of ED visits specifically related to nonmedical use of ADHD stimulants increased from 5,085 in 2005 to 9,181 in 2010.

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Although the number of ED visits involving ADHD stimulant medications did not increase significantly for children younger than 18 between 2005 and 2010, significant increases were observed among multiple age groups for persons aged 18 or older:

  • Among 18- to 25-year-olds visits increased from 2,131 to 8,148
  • Among 26- to 34-year olds visits increased from 1,754 to 6,094
  • Among those aged 35 years and older, visits increased from 2,519 to 7,957

In 45% of all emergency department visits involving ADHD stimulant medications, other pharmaceutical drugs were involved, while illicit drugs and alcohol were involved in 21% and 19%, respectively.

“This report shows that emergency department visits for nonmedical use have not increased among children and adolescents, but they have increased among adults aged 18 or older,” the researchers wrote. “This suggests a need for increased attention toward efforts to prevent diversion and misuse among adults.”


  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (January 24, 2013). The DAWN Report: Emergency Department Visits Involving Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Stimulant Medications. Rockville, MD.