Motives and perceived consequences of nonmedical ADHD medication use by college students: are students treating themselves for attention problems?

Journal Article (Journal Article)

OBJECTIVE: This study examines why college students without a prescription take ADHD medication, what they perceive the consequences of this to be, and whether attention problems are associated with this behavior. METHOD: More than 3,400 undergraduates attending one public and one private university in the southeastern United States completed a Web-based survey. RESULTS: Nonmedical ADHD medication use in the prior 6 months was reported by 5.4% of respondents and was positively associated with self-reported attention difficulties. Enhancing the ability to study was the most frequent motive reported; nonacademic motives were less common. Students perceived nonmedical use to be beneficial despite frequent reports of adverse reactions. CONCLUSION: Students without prescriptions use ADHD medication primarily to enhance academic performance and may do so to ameliorate attention problems that they experience as undermining their academic success. The academic, social, and biomedical consequences of illicit ADHD medication use among college students should be researched further.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Rabiner, DL; Anastopoulos, AD; Costello, EJ; Hoyle, RH; McCabe, SE; Swartzwelder, HS

Published Date

  • November 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 13 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 259 - 270

PubMed ID

  • 18664714

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1557-1246

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/1087054708320399


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States