Maggie: Fourteen-year-old Stephanie Person has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD, which makes it difficult for her to concentrate in school. But she says her medication helps.
Stephanie Person: I can focus in class and I can study. And I can do my homework and take notes and get everything done.
Maggie: Stephanie is not alone. New government data compiled by the New York Times found that nearly 6.5 million, or 11%, of young people have been diagnosed with ADHD. That is up 53% in the past decade. It is unclear if more students actually have ADHD, or if it is just that more doctors are diagnosing it.
About two-thirds of those students with ADHD take prescription drugs like Adderall and Ritalin. That number could go up. The American Psychiatric Association is revisiting its definition of ADHD and it is expected that more people will be diagnosed and treated. Some doctors worry an increase in diagnoses could mean more students taking the potentially addicting prescription drugs. There is also concern more young people without ADHD will abuse the drugs.
Dr. Andrew Adesman: Because stimulant medications have been shown to be very effective in improving the attention span of children with ADHD, many adolescents, high school students and especially college students are now using these medications illicitly.
Maggie: In March, the country's leading neurologists issued a warning about the specific risks of abusing ADHD drugs. They include becoming dependent on the drugs, as well as the drugs' negative side effects on developing brains.
Maggie Rulli, Channel One News.
- What does ADHD stand for?
- What seems to be the main message coming from this government report?
- What changes are coming in the diagnosis of ADHD that has some doctors worried?