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Infographic: Prescription Stimulant Abuse Among Young Adults

With the increase in prescriptions for ADHD stimulant medications (e.g., Ritalin, Adderall, and Concerta) has come an increase in their diversion and abuse – particularly among college students.

People who are prescribed these medications may sell them or give them to family and friends, who may use them to stay awake, improve school performance, or get high.

The infographic below sheds light on why young adults use these drugs and how well they understand the risks of using these medications without a prescription.

Infographic: Prescription Stimulant Abuse Among Young Adults

Infographic Text

Prescription stimulant abuse is a growing concern and public health issue.

We recently conducted a survey to learn more about prescription stimulant use among young adults (ages 18 to 28). The findings are below.

56% of young adults have misused or diverted their prescription stimulants.

Words Participants Used to Describe How Prescription Stimulants Helped Them

  • Awake
  • Focus
  • Benefit
  • Alert
  • Concentrate

Who’s Using?

  • 67% = current or former college students
  • 33% = never been to college

Reasons for Use

  • ADHD = 28.8%
  • Studying = 24.9%
  • Staying awake/alert = 17.5%
  • Recreational = 11.8%
  • To feel better = 8.2%
  • Weight loss = 4.6%
  • Other = 4.3%

How People Get Stimulants

  • Friends = 48%
  • Family = 16%
  • Classmates = 4%
  • Drug dealers = 3%
  • A variety of sources = 28%

Understanding the Risk

  • 44% were unfamiliar with legal ramifications of taking a prescription stimulant without a prescription
  • 42% were unfamiliar with negative long- and short-term side effects
  • 40% were unfamiliar with legal ramifications of selling or giving away prescription stimulants

Stimulant Abuse by Geographic Location

  • Northeast = 32%
  • South = 23%
  • Midwest = 32%
  • West = 15%

Get Help for Stimulant Abuse

Many people think stimulant medications are safe because they’re prescribed by medical professionals. However, the misuse of prescription stimulants can lead to addiction, heart problems, seizures, and even psychosis. 1 Signs of abuse include:

  • Fatigue.
  • Secretive behavior.
  • Irritability.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Insomnia.
  • Depression.

If you or someone you know is abusing prescription stimulants, call to learn more about treatment options. A number of different programs are available depending on your budget and insurance.

Survey information: Survey conducted by Recovery Brands from August 2 – August 8, 2016 and included 1,071 respondents between the ages of 18 to 28.

[1]. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). What are the possible consequences of stimulant use and abuse?