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Most Teens Believe Prescription Stimulant Use is an Issue for Teens

Update Date: Sep 05, 2013 04:27 PM EDT

Prescription stimulants, which are drugs often prescribed to people with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), sleeping disorders and depression increase activity levels by boosting attention, energy and alertness. Even though these drugs are supposed to be taken with a prescription according to the dosage, like a lot of the legal and illegal drugs out there, they often get abused. Even though the problem of prescription drug abuse is a relatively new issue, a new study finds that the majority of teenagers believe that teenagers abuse prescription stimulants.

For this new report, researchers looked at the data from the National Monitoring of Adolescent Prescription Stimulants Study, which included surveys that totaled 11,048 children. The young participants were between the ages of 10 and 18 and they were from urban, rural or suburban areas throughout 10 U.S. cities. The cities included Boston, Cincinnati, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Seattle and Tampa. The data was acquired through interviews at shopping malls, sports and recreation facilities, arcades and skate parks. The interviews were conducted four times throughout the time span of 2008 to 2011.

The survey required the children to answer written questionnaires. The survey also asked the participants to identify and name the prescription stimulants shown in the pictures. The researchers discovered that around two-thirds of the interviewees believed that prescription stimulant usage was a moderate to large issue for people their own age. Almost 15 percent of the participants reported that they have used a prescription stimulant at least once in their lifetime. The highest rates were seen in people aged 16 to 18. The researchers also found that seven percent of the participants reported using these stimulants within the past 30 days. Four percent of that admitted to using prescription stimulants for non-medical use. Non-medical use was defined as taking the drugs to "get high, "out of curiosity" or "just because."

"I was surprised at how consistent the findings were from city to city and time point to time point," commented Lind B. Cottler, who led the study at the University of Florida. Cottler is the chair of the department of epidemiology in the College of Public Health and Health Professions and the College of Medicine and the College's associate dean for research and planning.

The study was published in Current Opinion in Psychiatry

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