While children are still the most prevalent users of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity (ADHD) medication, pharmacies are starting to see the number of adults using such medication climb.
On March 12, pharmacy benefit management services Express Scripts released its most recent report analyzing ADHD medication use.
According to its pharmacy claims data between 2008 and 2012 the number of Americans who use medicine to treat ADHD rose 36 percent, totaling more than 4.8 million privately insured individuals in 2012.
The study showed the southern region of the country has the highest concentration of ADHD medication use, with South Carolina showing the greatest prevalence overall: 14 percent of 12 to 18 year olds are on ADHD medication treatment.
Yevgeniy Gelfand, a psychiatrist from Summerville and Trident Medical Center, said it is hard to tell why the number of adults using ADHD medication would go up.
“It’s one of those controversial things,” he said.
However, Gelfand said there are a number of situations that could attribute to adults being prescribed the medication. In some situations there are people who were never diagnosed as children and always had trouble focusing. There are people who suffer from depression and anxiety and struggle to focus and then get put on ADHD medicine to maintain in order to regain focus.
“It does not surprise me,” Gelfand said, adding he feels this generation is one that juggles many tasks. “It’s hard to focus on one thing when we are focusing on so many other things.”
Gelfand said since this is a generation with so many things to focus on, sometimes people would rather just take a pill instead of finding other ways to deal with the problem.
“It becomes a permanent crutch for people,” he said. “Everyone can perform better on stimuli – I can perform better on stimuli.”
Gelfand is concerned because there are downfalls to becoming dependent on ADHD medication: studies show that people on ADHD medicine could potentially have dementia later on.
A lot of kids in school – including high school and college – heavily rely on ADHD medicine to help them study.
Gelfand said before he tries prescribing medicine to patients he searches for other means to help them; he strongly encourages people to train themselves in concentration – work out the brain just as anybody would go to the gym to work out any other part of their body. Gelfand suggests things like meditation, which helps the brain focus.
“It also helps us turn off the background chatter,” Gelfand said.
Gelfand also encourages maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including proper diet and exercise – and less sugar.
“The most important thing you can do for your brain is rest,” he said.