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Drawing the Line on Stimulants

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The rise in Adderall and Ritalin stimulant prescriptions among teenagers has a mirror and maybe even a magnifying glass in Major League Baseball.  The league reports on drug use among players as part of its efforts to reduce the use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).  For the most part, these prescription stimulants are forbidden, unless players have a ‘therapeutic use exemption,’ with a diagnosis that requires the drug, usually for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The MLB report for 2012-2013 covered players on the 40-man rosters for all 30 teams, so that should be 1,200 players. There were 122 therapeutic use exemptions for players using stimulants, nearly all of them for an ADHD diagnosis. That’s roughly 10 percent of MLB players taking stimulants for ADHD. The number of players granted these exemptions has been rising, too. In 2006, only 28 players had exemptions. The following year, when amphetamines were banned, that number jumped to 103. The number of MLB players taking ADHD drugs is higher than the general population. ADHD is mostly diagnosed and treated in childhood and the rate of treatment in children is close to 10 percent, according to the National Institutes of Health. Many people do not continue to take meds into adulthood or have never been diagnosed. Despite this fact,  the number of annual emergency room visits for adults for ADHD drugs more than doubled in recent years (2005-2010), from 13,379 to 31,244. So, adults are using the stimulants, but without prescriptions. Where did that behavior start? For some of them, in college.  Recent studies about college students and stimulants, coupled with a two-part series on prescription drugs in the student newspaper of Miami University can open some eyes. It may be easy to say taking stimulants for good grades isn’t so bad, but those dorm room pharmacies can be stocked with anti-anxiety drugs and painkillers, too. The slope to addiction is slippery, especially for young people trying to sort out their lives and find an edge to compete, whether they are in college or on a baseball diamond. If you or a loved one is struggling with drug abuse or stimulants, Stepping Stone Center for Recovery can help. Contact us at 866-957-4960 any time for information on addiction treatment.

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