Study finds students are using ADHD drug as study aid

Students getting stimulant drugs from family members or friends with legitimate prescriptions.

A recent study at Johns Hopkins University has discovered the drug Adderall, used in treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), is being abused by students who are taking the drug as a stimulant to help all-night studying.

The study, cited in a UPI story, found that the number of prescriptions for the drug has remained flat, but the number of people who seek treatment at emergency rooms for abusing the drug has seen a significant increase in the past few years.

The study authors say people are abusing Adderall, which is a stimulant that contains salts from amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, and other similar drugs because they believe the medications to be harmless.  The researchers say their findings show young adults from age 18 to 25 are getting the drugs from friends or family members and taking them in greater quantities to act as a stimulant and also for other purposes.

On the contrary, overuse of this type of medication has been associated with increased risk of sleep disruption, depression, bipolar disorder, high blood pressure, and stroke.

The study revealed non-medical use of the drugs increased by 67.1 percent, and visits to the emergency room related to the drugs were up by 155.9 percent as well.  The researchers analyzed data from part of the National Disease and Therapeutic Index, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, and the Drug Abuse Warning Network over a period from 2006 through 2011.

Dr. Lian-Yu Chen, a researcher at National Taiwan University Hospital says the study suggested the main driver of misuse of the drugs and emergency room visits related the the use of the drugs is the result of people taking the medications  that were prescribed for someone else.  Chen called for physicians to become more aware of the events and take steps to prevent it from happening.

Ramin Mojtabai, a professor of mental health at Johns Hopkins, said in a press release, many college students think stimulants are harmless and feel safe using them as study aids, but these categories of drugs can lead to serious health risks and we need to make students more aware of the dangers.

Findings from the study were published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

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