April 24, 2023One in four middle and high school students has reported abusing prescription stimulant medications used to treat ADHD, according to a cross-sectional study recently published in the journal JAMA Network Open. 1 Non-medical use of prescription stimulants among teens remains more prevalent than misuse of other prescription drugs, including opioids and benzodiazepines, the research found.According to researchers at the University of Michigan, students who used marijuana in the past 30 days were four times more likely to abuse ADHD medications than teens who did not use cannabis.
In addition, stimulant drug abuse was 36% more likely to occur in schools with a large population of students with stimulant medication prescriptions to treat ADHD than it was in schools with fewer students using prescription stimulants like Adderall or Ritalin. (Studies have shown that one in every nine high school seniors reported taking prescribed stimulants for ADHD.) (2, 3)According to the research, other factors associated with increased rates of stimulant drug abuse included:Prolonged stimulant abuse, researchers said, can lead to several detrimental health effects, including cardiovascular conditions, depression, anxiety, seizures, overdoses, psychosis, and stimulant use disorder.“The key takeaway here is not that we need to lessen prescribing stimulants for students who need them, but that we need better ways to store, monitor, and screen for stimulant access and use among youth to prevent misuse,” said study author Sean Esteban McCabe, Ph.D.For the study, the University of Michigan research team analyzed data collected between 2005 and 2020 by Monitoring the Future, a National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) multi-cohort