Students use ADHD medicines for better performance

Students use ADHD medicines for better performanceA new survey shows that nearly 20% of college students have admitted to have used stimulants in quest of better performance studies and/or sports. However, none of surveyed students have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The probability of using such medicines was higher in university students and athletes in sororities and fraternities than others. However, around 50% of those who used the medicines said that they had done so not more than 4 times. Thus, only a small population of students regularly use the medicines.

The revelations support findings of other surveys that concluded use of prescribed stimulants as a problem in/for American colleges. The improper consumption of these medicines needs to be reduced and students with ADHD need to be counselled about the health and legal risks involved in case they give their medicines to others. 616 college students were surveyed for the study, and none of them had ADHD. Online anonymous questionnaire about the consumption of stimulants like Adderall were used to receive response from the students.

The medicines are comparable to cocaine in terms of chemical composition. They charge the person who consumes them and enable them stay active for hours at a stretch. They provide alertness of higher level than provided by caffeine. However, medical risks involved with these medicines are various, especially when other drugs are used simultaneously or in cases of undiagnosed conditions.

Prescription stimulant medicines were used at least once by 13% of sophomores, 16% of seniors and 24% of juniors among the surveyed students. 67% of those who used it did so for writing an essay, 66% for an examination studies, 32% for engaging in research and 27% for taking a test. 28% of the surveyed students, who were involved with Greek system and played as athletics for their universities, used ADHD medicines in comparison to only 16% of other students. Those students use the medicines to cope with the dual responsibility of studies and sports. Interestingly, only 18% of the students who had used the medicines consider it cheating in comparison to 46% of those who had never consumed it.

There can be discussions on whether consumption of ADHD medicines should be considered as cheating because a significant population of students think it is. However, twist accompanies any assumption made about the medicines because the ability of the medicines in helping student achieve better grades seems more a myth than a reality. There is no uncertainty about the source of such medicines. Most of the students got it from their peers who have been prescribed with the medicines. In fact, majority of the respondents aged 18 – 22 years believe that the prescription stimulants can be “very” easily or “fairly” easily obtained.

The report of the survey kept the name of the campus anonymous in order to avoid negative backlash with the school. The reality is that the situation is not much different in other schools too. The findings of the research will be presented at the Paediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Vancouver.

Image source: