SEOUL, Nov. 6 (Korea Bizwire) – With a record-setting number of patients diagnosed with ADHD in November, there is speculation as to whether a significant portion are chasing after prescription drugs under the belief that the medication can help boost studying performance.
The surge in November diagnoses belies the fact that overall totals of ADHD patients have been on a steady downward trajectory, dropping from annual averages northward of 60,000 to below the 50,000 mark for the first time last year. According to files released by a government health institute on November 5, 82.1 percent of the patients were men, findings consistent with the common knowledge that the male gender is more susceptible to the disorder.
A chart of ADHD patients for every month last year shows a sharp increase starting from February, the month with the lowest number of patients with 21,279, climbing until a peak of 25,404 in November, after which patient numbers began to decline.
The November surge is attributed by some to the College Scholastic Ability Test – the standardized college entrance exam held nationwide in November – and parents’ mistaken belief that ADHD treatment drugs improve cognitive capabilities, enhancing their children’s chances of acceptance to a top flight university, the ultimate prize in a country fiercely competitive over education.
To curb the occurrence of the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety released a set of guidelines which stress that misguided use could lead to severe side effects and urges consultation with a physician and pharmacist prior to consumption.
Currently, ADHD treatment drugs can only be purchased with a prescription.
“Because treatment is intended to address specific maladies, a person who takes the drugs and is without those illnesses will not see an improvement in his or her levels of concentration and attentiveness,” said professor Choi Jeong-ho of the Mental Health Department at Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital. “On the contrary, people who take ADHD treatment drugs for the wrong reasons can in extreme cases experience hallucinations and other psychological problems and should therefore avoid consumption.”