The misuse and diversion of prescribed ADHD medications by college students.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

OBJECTIVE: This study assesses the misuse and diversion of prescribed attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications. METHOD: One hundred fifteen students, attending two universities, with prescriptions for ADHD medications completed a Web survey in spring 2007. RESULTS: Eighty-nine of 115 students (69%) used their ADHD medications as prescribed, whereas 36 (31%) had misused during college by taking larger or more frequent doses than prescribed or by using someone else's medication. Nine students (8%) reported intranasal use during the previous 6 months, and 30 (26%) had diverted medications to peers. Misuse was associated with impulsivity and with other substance use. Enhancing the ability to study outside of class was students' primary motive for misuse, but nonacademic reasons were also reported. Students who misused ADHD medications generally felt that doing so was helpful. CONCLUSIONS: Although most students use their ADHD medication as prescribed, misuse and diversion is not uncommon. Because enhancing academic performance was the primary motive for misuse, the results raise questions about whether undergraduates with ADHD perceive their treatment as adequate and the extent to which physicians and students communicate about issues related to medication adjustments.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

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

Published Date

  • September 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 13 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 144 - 153

PubMed ID

  • 19448150

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1087-0547

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/1087054708320414


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States