Use of ADHD drugs soars by more than 50% in six years

Doctors are warned to monitor use of Ritalin and similar drugs

The use of prescription drugs designed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder sufferers has soared by more than 50 per cent in six years, new figures have shown.

The amount of prescriptions made for methylphenidate drugs such as Ritalin have been steadily increasing, according to the Care Quality Commission's (CQC) annual report on controlled drugs.

Methylphenidate is considered to be a psychostimulant and is thought to stimulate a part of the brain that changes mental and behavioural reactions.

In 2007, GPs in England wrote 420,000 prescriptions for such medication, but by 2012 the figure had leapt to 657,000 - a rise of 56 per cent.

Officials at the watchdog advised health workers to "carefully monitor" the drugs because they have a potential for "diversion or misuse".

Drugs such as Ritalin are associated with the "smart-drug craze", where students use the medication to improve their concentration when studying and to fight off tiredness.

As many as one in 10 UK students could be taking "cognitive enhancing" drugs such as ritalin, according to research.

The CQC report says the number of prescriptions for such medications rose by 11 per cent between 2011 and 2012.

"As in previous years, we believe that this reflects increased diagnosis of, and prescribing for, the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)," the CQC report states.

"We are also aware of the possibility that methylphenidate could be diverted and abused, and for this reason we recommend that its use should be monitored carefully.

"We are aware of reports in the media and scientific literature that it is being abused as a 'smart' drug to improve cognitive function; the long-term risks of this practice are not known."

ADHD sufferers often show symptoms such as inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Behaviour such as this is usually apparent at an early age and it is normally diagnosed between the ages of three and seven.

It is estimated the condition affects 2 per cent to 5 per cent of school-aged children and young people, although it can continue into adulthood.

Additional reporting by PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Building Manager / Head Porter

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Medical Copywriter / Account Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join an awa...

Recruitment Genius: Transport Clerk / Debriefer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading temperature contro...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketer

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific