1 in 6 College Students Misuse ADHD Meds

March 13, 2015
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor

About 17% of college students misuse stimulant medications prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a new study published in the Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review.

About 17% of college students misuse stimulant medications prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a new study published in the Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review.

Misuse was defined by the researchers as taking more pills than prescribed or taking the medication without a prescription.

The most common reason for misusing stimulant medications, such as Ritalin and Adderall, was an attempt to improve academic work. The most frequent way in which students obtained the ADHD drugs were through their peers who had prescriptions.

The study also found that membership in fraternities and sororities and other substance abuse was associated with misuse of stimulant medications.

The researchers concluded that more research is needed on how stimulant medication misuse, participation in extracurricular activities, academic outcomes, depression, and eating disorders relate to each other. They also called for further investigation to determine whether college policies contribute to the rates of misuse among students.

Study author Kate Flory, associate professor at the University of South Carolina (USC), said in a press release that she would like to use these results to make an impact on the USC campus.

“We have a substance abuse prevention and education office, and they have a group that’s focused on prescription medications,” Flory said in a press release. “We’ve pulled together an interdisciplinary group of researchers here at USC to apply for a grant from the National Institute of Drug Abuse, which would enable us to actually do an intervention on campus.”