February 17, 2008
Thousands of adults are being prescribed drugs designed to treat hyperactive children, new figures show.
A record number are taking medicines such as Ritalin – some for up to 20 years – after a childhood diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Experts are warning of a “timebomb”, with more than 140,000 prescriptions for such drugs issued to adults last year, despite fears about the long-term effects of medication which has been dubbed a “chemical cosh”.
Pills such as Ritalin, Concerta and Strattera are normally given to children diagnosed with ADHD – a label used to describe behavioural problems including hyperactivity, impulsive actions, and poor organisational skills. The “developmental” condition should diminish as youngsters approach adulthood, allowing teenagers to be weaned off the drugs.