Among adults ages 18 to 34, ED visits related to the nonmedical use of central nervous system stimulants increased by 300% between 2005 and 2011, according to a government report.
The number increased from 5,605 to 22,949, according to the report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. An average of about 30% of the visits also involved alcohol.
In 2011 approximately 1.24 million ED visits were related to the nonmedical use of pharmaceuticals, which include prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements.
“Nonmedical use of any drug, even an over-the-counter drug, can be dangerous, but these CNS stimulants can potentially cause significant and lasting harm, including heart problems and addiction,” Elinore F. McCance-Katz, MD, PhD, chief medical officer for SAMHSA, said in a news release. “We must raise awareness of this public health risk and do everything possible to prevent it.”
CNS stimulants featured in this report include prescription drugs, such as those used to treat attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder; other prescription medications, such as benzphetamine and modafinil; and over-the- counter products containing stimulants. Illicit stimulants, such as methamphetamine, were not included in the study.
The nonmedical use of CNS prescription drugs is linked to heart and blood vessel problems and to drug abuse or dependence, according to the report. When combined with alcohol, CNS stimulants can alter the perception of intoxication and can increase the risk of alcohol poisoning or alcohol-related injuries, according to SAMHSA.
The report is based on findings from the 2005 to 2011 Drug Abuse Warning Network reports. DAWN is a public health surveillance system that monitors drug-related hospital ED visits and drug-related deaths to track the impact of drug use, misuse and abuse in the United States.
The complete survey findings are available at http://www.samhsa.gov/data/spotlight/spot103-CNS-stimulants-adults-2013.pdf.