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Dr Marie Sartain
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CDC: ADHD drugs for adults spiked during pandemic

A new CDC study finds that the number of adults using prescription stimulants rose noticeably during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stimulant prescriptions overall increased marginally from 2016 to 2021, but increased by more than 10% in the last year of that period for adults and teenage girls.

“The combination of potential increased need and reduced barriers to access prescription stimulants might have encouraged more adults with ADHD symptoms to seek diagnosis and treatment,” wrote study authors.

CDC researchers also noted that while it may have benefited those with ADHD symptoms. However, “it might also have introduced the potential for inadequate ADHD evaluations and inappropriate stimulant prescribing,” they cautioned.

The study concluded there is a need to establish clinical guidelines for treating adults with ADHD, calling the lack of them a public health concern.

The Washington Post has reported that virtual visits represented nearly 40% of stimulant prescriptions last year, up from less than 2% prior to the pandemic.

The CDC study also found that prescription stimulants were most widely used among children and young adults, but the largest increases in recent years were among adults. For women ages 15 to 44 years and 50 to 54 years, the percentage receiving at least one stimulant prescription increased between 14.3% and 19.2% from 2020 to 2021. The trend was similar for men ages 25 to 44 years and 50 to 54 years, with those filling at least one prescription rising between 11.1% and 14.7% in 2021.

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