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ADHD Drug Abuse Common in Young Adults, Study Reports

Update Date: Nov 14, 2014 11:09 AM EST

Stimulants prescribed for people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are commonly abused by young adults, a new study reported. According to the survey, one in five college students and one in seven non-students of about the same age have abused stimulants.

"The findings shed a new and surprising light on the young adult who is abusing prescription stimulants," said Sean Clarkin, director of strategy and program management for the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, who sponsored the survey. "While there is some 'recreational' abuse, the typical misuser is a male college student whose grade point average is only slightly lower than that of non-abusers, but who is juggling a very busy schedule that includes academics, work and an active social life."

For this research, a team from Whitman Insight Strategies interviewed more than 1,600 young adults via the Internet. About 1,000 of the participants were college students. The survey asked the participants about their history with ADHD stimulants, such as Adderall, Ritalin and Vyvanse.

Overall, about 50 percent of the students admitted to using prescription stimulants to study or to try to improve their academic performance. Around 66 percent of the students felt that the drugs helped them get a better grade or at least made them more competitive. 40 percent of the sample took the stimulant to stay awake and approximately 25 percent of them used the drug to work more efficiently. More than 50 percent of them stated that access to stimulants was easy.

"The profile that emerges is less that of an academic 'goof-off' who abuses prescription stimulants to make up for lost study time than a stressed out multitasker who is burning the candle at both ends and trying to keep up," Clarkin said according to WebMD.

The survey also discovered that 28 percent of patients have exaggerated their symptoms in order to get a larger dose of the stimulant. 28 percent of patients reported sharing their medication with their friends.

The news release can be found here.

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