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Concerns of dangerous exposure to ADHD medications growing

ROANOKE, Va. – Twenty-three-year old Rae Barker, former addict and Hope Initiative administrator, has been drug free for the past 21 months. 

"I've been there. It gets better. Let’s find a way to help and turn your life around," said Barker.

Barker said she first began abusing Adderall and Ritalin in her teens, medications used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

She got them from friends who had prescriptions. 

"It wasn't that one stopped working. It was just that this (drug) had a certain effect that I wanted to now relax and this other one had a certain effect of ‘I need to stay up all night, because I have a 30-page assignment to do,' " said Barker. 

A new study from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention shows between 2000 and 2014, there was a 61 percent increase in the number of calls to U.S. poison control centers regarding exposure to ADHD medications for children under 19. 

The most serious and intentional cases came from kids ages 13 to 19 who were intentionally abusing or misusing the drugs or suspected suicide attempts.

Dr. Robert Trestman, chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine for Virginia Tech School of Medicine, said one reason for the increase of abuse is constant sharing of ADHD medications.

"There have been a growing number of inaccuracies in terms of over-diagnosing, as well as people not having the proper access to all of the psychotherapies that are also appropriate,” said Trestman. 

Barker now spends her time speaking to kids about the dangers of these drugs and helping recovering adults through the Hope Initiative.

"Thanks to the people around me, I have been able to turn my life around," Barker said.