The peak ages for starting to misuse prescription stimulants, such as drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), are between 16 and 19, a new study finds. The researchers say education programs should start in middle school to keep more young people from starting to misuse prescription stimulants.
Misusing these drugs can have risky side effects, such as dependency, hallucinations, suicide or sudden death, according to the University of Michigan Medical School researchers. They analyzed data from more than 240,000 teens and young adults. The findings are published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
They found each year between the ages of 16 and 19, just under 1 percent of teens start misusing using prescription stimulants, such as Ritalin or prescription diet drugs, MedicalXpress reports. Prescription diet pills were the most popular stimulant drug misused by females, while males preferred Adderall. At age 18, the rate of starting stimulant misuse was twice as high among females as among males.