Experts Warn of an Emerging ‘Stimulant Epidemic’

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From Medscape: While policymakers and members of the general public are justifiably focused on addressing the opioid epidemic, there is another epidemic that may be getting overlooked: the stimulant epidemic.

“Data from government surveys on drug use show that stimulant use is climbing and in some cases outpaces opioid use. In 2016, for example, an estimated 2.3 million people started using opioids to get high for the first time, while 2.6 million people started using stimulant drugs for the same purpose. In 2016, an estimated 3.8 million people said they used opioids to get high within the last month, while 4.3 million said the same about stimulants.

While opioids now account for most drug overdose deaths in the U.S., the number of people who are dying from stimulants is also rising. Early data from the CDC show that the number of overdose deaths due to psychostimulant abuse — a drug category that includes prescription and illegal stimulants — jumped nearly 30% last year. In 2017, 7,663 people died from a stimulant overdose, up from 5,992 in 2016.

In addition to illegal drugs, legal supplies of stimulants have never been greater. Prescriptions for stimulant medications like Ritalin and Adderall are up for all age groups, according to data from prescription drug monitoring programs. Both are typically prescribed to treat attention deficit disorders.

In Oregon, for example, the rate of stimulant prescriptions written for every 1,000 adults ages 30 to 44 increased from 159 in 2012 to 238 in 2016, about a 50% increase. The largest percent increase, puzzlingly, was in prescriptions written for people ages 65 to 74.”

Article → (Behind paywall)

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