Purpose: The aim of this study was to describe the extent of methylphenidate (MPH) abuse and characterize its patterns by following several cases involving intravenous administration of crushed MPH tablets. Methods: First, a drug reimbursement database (covering 4 million inhabitants) was explored to assess the magnitude of MPH abuse among the general population, and second, a specific study based on individuals with drug dependence was performed to describe abusers' characteristics (n = 64), patterns of abuse and clinical implications. Results: From 2005 to 2011, the number of patients who were dispensed MPH at least once increased by 166%. The patients with ‘deviant' patterns of MPH consumption were mainly male adults with opiate maintenance treatment reimbursements. MPH abusers had precarious living conditions. Half of them consumed MPH daily by intravenous route and reported amphetamine-like effects (cardiovascular events, weight loss, psychiatric adverse events). Conclusion: Given the increase of MPH use, it is important to warn the scientific community about possible MPH abuse, especially in individuals with drug dependence. This study has facilitated public health intervention and dissemination of information related to MPH abuse among health care professionals at local and national levels.

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