A new study has found that many young adults abuse drugs designed to help combat Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. In fact, researchers found that roughly one in five college students are abusing these prescription stimulants.
The associated report comes from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, which carried out a survey of 1,600 young people aged 18 to 25. They found many young adults abusing stimulants like Ritalin, Vyvanse, and Adderall in order to stay awake, study longer, and improve their school performance.
According to Sean Clarkin, director of strategy and program management for the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, the typical drug abuser is male, in college, and struggling to improve their grade point average. Clarkin says that, in many cases, abusers are having trouble keeping up with a busy schedule that includes academics, sports, work, and a busy social life.
“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.
Clarkin says it’s time for parents and educators to recognize and confront this issue. He suggests creating programs that help young adults improve their time-management skills in a way that helps them balance their obligations without turning to stimulants.
Dr. Josh Hersh, a psychiatrist at Miami University, says it’s imperative that young people recognize the threat posed by taking these drugs without a prescription. “The fact that students often use these drugs around deadlines, when their natural adrenaline is already high, elevates the risk,” Hersh said. “Sporadic use can lead to severe sleep deprivation and cause stimulant-induced psychosis, when a student gets paranoid and may hallucinate.”