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Increase in psychotropic drug use between 2006 and 2010 among adolescents in Norway: a nationwide prescription database study

Authors Steffenak AKM, Wilde-Larsson B, Nordström, Skurtveit S, Hartz I

Received 9 March 2012

Accepted for publication 16 April 2012

Published 20 August 2012 Volume 2012:4(1) Pages 225—231


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Anne Kjersti Myhrene Steffenak,1 Bodil Wilde-Larsson,1,2 Gun Nordström,1,2 Svetlana Skurtveit,3,4 Ingeborg Hartz1

1Hedmark University College, Elverum, Norway; 2Department of Nursing, Karlstad University, Sweden; 3Division of Epidemiology, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway; 4Norwegian Centre for Addiction Research, University of Oslo, Norway

Background: The purposes of this study were to investigate the prevalence of psychotropic (hypnotic, antidepressant, and anxiolytic) drug use among adolescents aged 15–16 years during the period 2006–2010 according to gender and subcategories of psychotropics, and to study psychotropic drug use over the period 2007–2010 among incident users in 2007.
Methods: This was a one-year prevalence and follow-up study based on information retrieved from the nationwide Norwegian prescription database for the period 2006–2010. The study population consisted of adolescents aged 15–16 years who had filled at least one prescription for a psychotropic drug in the study period. The main outcome measures were filling of hypnotic, antidepressant, and/or anxiolytic drug prescriptions.
Results: Overall use of psychotropic drugs increased from 13.9 to 21.5 per 1000 among boys and from 19.7 to 24.7 per 1000 among girls during the 2006–2010 period. Hypnotic drugs, and melatonin in particular, accounted for most of the increase. For melatonin, the annual median amount dispensed was 180 defined daily doses through the period until 2010, at which time it decreased to 90 defined daily doses. In total, 16.4% of all incident psychotropic drug users in 2007 were still having prescriptions dispensed in 2010.
Conclusion: This study shows an increase in hypnotic drugs dispensed for adolescents in Norway, mainly attributable to the increasing use of melatonin. The amount of melatonin dispensed indicates more than sporadic use over longer periods, despite melatonin only being licensed in Norway for use in insomnia for individuals aged 55 years or older.

Keywords: psychotropic drugs, hypnotics, sedatives, antidepressive agents, antianxiety agents, adolescents, prescription database, defined daily dose, long-term use

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