One-sixth of College Students Misuse ADHD Stimulants


About 17% of college students take stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall, primarily because they believe the drugs will help them improve their academic performance, according to a meta-analysis published in Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review.

The University of South Carolina researchers examined thirty studies in which abuse rates ranged from 8% to 43%. “Primarily, students misused the medications to improve academic performance, although the researchers found that nonusers appeared to perform better academically than users,” reported Medscape.

The students most often obtained the drugs from people who had prescriptions for them for managing ADHD.

ADHD Medication Misuse Rampant in College Students (Medscape, March 16, 2015)

Benson, Kari, Kate Flory, Kathryn L. Humphreys, and Steve S. Lee. β€œMisuse of Stimulant Medication Among College Students: A Comprehensive Review and Meta-Analysis.” Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review 18, no. 1 (January 10, 2015): 50–76. doi:10.1007/s10567-014-0177-z. (Abstract)

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Rob Wipond
Rob Wipond is a freelance journalist who writes frequently on the interfaces between psychiatry, civil rights, policing, surveillance and privacy, and social change. His articles have been nominated for seventeen magazine and journalism awards. His book Your Consent is Not Required: The Rise in Psychiatric Detentions, Forced Treatment, and Abusive Guardianships will be released in January 2023, and can be pre-ordered through BenBella or major online booksellers. He can be contacted through his website.


  1. This is exactly what people on MIA have been saying all the time. Using amphetamines to boost concentration and prevent sleepiness to learn more intensively before exams is nothing new and most people who have tried that know that it’s usually counteproductive. Both claims that amphetamines work differently on ADHD peoplethan “normals” or that they improve academic performance are patently false

  2. ……primarily because they believe the drugs will help them improve their academic performance

    The other reason for this is that amphetamines elevate mood. With the elevated mood comes impaired judgement. This can lead down a dangerous slope and can end up ruining a persons life. It did mine.