Managing Addictions

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Do These Rates of Stimulant Abuse Surprise You?

by Dr. Mike on

 Young Adults Abuse Prescription Stimulants to Manage Over-scheduled, Stressful Lives

Are rates of stimulant abuse a "wake up call"?

Are rates of stimulant abuse a “wake up call”?

That was the conclusion of a research survey released 11/13/2014 by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.  The new research found that 1 in 5 college students (20 percent) report abusing prescription stimulants at least once in their lifetime, compared to 1 in 7 non-students (15 percent).  More than 4 in 10 (41 percent) say they misuse or abuse them to stay awake.

Current college students who do report abuse of prescription stimulants are also more likely to feel pressure to abuse prescription stimulants to improve academic performance, compared to those who do not abuse (50 percent vs. 19 percent).

Among those individuals who are legally prescribed Rx stimulants, more than 1 in 4 young adults (28 percent) report exaggerating symptoms to obtain a larger dosage of their medication from their physicians. 

Health Professionals: Learn to Reduce Abuse in Your Office and Access the Full Reports

In the press release published Nov 13, 2014

“The accessibility and social acceptance of the behavior of Rx stimulant abuse is making it easier for young adults to misuse these medications. The research also shows that those who engage in the behavior are mostly obtaining the Rx medicine from their friends (and not from “dealers”). More than half of young adults (56 percent) indicate that it is easy to obtain Rx stimulants that were not prescribed to them and a majority of them (58 percent) say they have friends who abuse Rx stimulants. Of those who said they abuse Rx stimulants, 57 percent report that the last time they abused, they received the medication from a friend, while 10 percent report obtaining it from a family member and 6 percent from a “dealer.” In addition, almost all young adults (96 percent) who abuse Rx stimulants report that they believe their friends abuse prescription stimulants as well. 
More than a quarter of young adults (28 percent) who have been legally prescribed Rx stimulants share their medicine with friends. A large portion of these young adults (52 percent) also report being pressured by their friends into sharing or selling their Rx stimulants. 
“This new data confirm that college students are misusing and abusing Rx stimulants in a misguided effort to manage their lives because they are burning the candle at both ends – feeling the need to perform better and achieve their academic and social goals,” said Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. “This fact presents an opportunity for parents and health care professionals to play a pivotal role in helping students better manage their time and the commitments that are stressing them out. And most importantly, they can and should counsel young people who have been legitimately prescribed medication for ADHD to not compromise their own health by sharing or selling those medications.”

Health Professionals: Learn to Reduce Abuse in Your Office and Access the Full Reports


About Dr. Mike

Michael Schiesser MD is a physician, speaker, consultant and expert in addictions. View all posts by Dr. Mike →