Study: One in Four Teens Has Abused Stimulant Medications for ADHD

Wednesday May 17, 2023



(ADDitude) One in four middle and high school students has reported abusing prescription stimulant medications used to treat ADHD, according to a cross-sectional study recently published in the journal JAMA Network Open1 Non-medical use of prescription stimulants among teens remains more prevalent than misuse of other prescription drugs, including opioids and benzodiazepines, the research found.

According to researchers at the University of Michigan, students who used marijuana in the past 30 days were four times more likely to abuse ADHD medications than teens who did not use cannabis. In addition, stimulant drug abuse was 36% more likely to occur in schools with a large population of students with stimulant medication prescriptions to treat ADHD than it was in schools with fewer students using prescription stimulants like Adderall or Ritalin. (Studies have shown that one in every nine high school seniors reported taking prescribed stimulants for ADHD.) (23)

According to the research, other factors associated with increased rates of stimulant drug abuse included:

  • Schools located in suburban, non-Northeastern regions of the U.S.
  • Schools with a high proportion of parents with a college degree
  • Schools with a higher proportion of white students
  • Schools with a medium amount of binge drinking among students (10%-19% of the total student body)

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