Study Reveals High Rates of Prescription Stimulant Abuse Among Middle and High School Students

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that up to 25% of middle and high school students are abusing prescription stimulants such as Adderall, amidst a nationwide shortage of ADHD drug. 

The University of Michigan researchers collaborated with the National Institutes of Health to analyze survey answers from 3,284 schools across the United States, collected between 2005 and 2020 for the national Monitoring the Future study. 

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The study assessed the use of prescription stimulants among students with ADHD and those who use the drugs non-medically.

Broad Spectrum of Misappropriation and Hazards

Principal author Sean Esteban McCabe, the overseer of the Center for the Study of Drugs, Alcohol, Smoking, and Health at the University of Michigan, labeled the study a “crucial eye-opener.” 

The research ascertained that non-therapeutic employment of prescription stimulants fluctuated from 0% to over 25%, contingent upon the institution. 

Schools manifesting heightened rates of stimulant misuse commonly possessed a larger populace of learners receiving stimulant therapy for ADHD, were situated in suburban vicinities, had a greater proportion of Caucasian learners, and had pupils with more erudite parents.

Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cautioned that substances procured online or exchanged amongst friends or relatives could comprise fentanyl or other powerful illegal substances, escalating the likelihood of overdoses. 

Non-therapeutic applications of stimulants can encompass ingesting doses exceeding standard levels, amalgamating the medication with alcohol or alternative drugs, or excessive consumption due to scholastic stress.

Amplified Risk Elements and Ramifications

The inquiry deduced that learners attending institutions with higher rates of stimulant therapy confronted a 36% increased risk of stimulant misuse compared to their counterparts in schools with reduced rates. 

Additionally, pupils who consumed marijuana within the past 30 days were four times more inclined to misappropriate ADHD medications than those who refrained from cannabis use.

Prescription stimulant abuse can culminate in grave consequences, including cardiovascular complications, despondent mood, overdoses, psychosis, anxiety, seizures, and stimulant use disorder. 

The researchers accentuated the necessity of heightening awareness of these perils for adolescents and emphasized that stimulant therapy should be employed solely with a prescription and under a clinician’s supervision.

Nationwide Dearth and Escalated Prescriptions

Subsequent to the data compilation for the study concluding in 2020, prescriptions for stimulants soared 10% across the majority of age groups during 2021. 

Simultaneously, a nationwide shortage of Adderall, one of the most prevalent ADHD drugs, has rendered numerous patients incapable of obtaining or replenishing their prescriptions. 

The findings underscore the pressing requirement for additional examination and interventions to tackle the issue of prescription stimulant misuse among intermediate and secondary school pupils.

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