Stimulants: Not Quite an Epidemic

A smaller percentage of college students abuse stimulants than previously thought.

ADHD college student doesn't always take medication
ADHD college student doesn't always take medication

There’s been a clear increase in the abuse of stimulant medication among college students, but this isn’t quite the “epidemic” that some say it is.

The first-ever nationwide survey of college students, released earlier this year by the University of Michigan, found that in 2001, 6.9 percent of college students had ever used Ritalin, Dexedrine, or Adderall “for non-medical purposes.” The survey involved nearly 11,000 students from 119 four-year institutions.

What about stimulant abuse among high schoolers? Statistics compiled since 1975 by the National Institute for Drug Abuse indicate that, after rising for more than a decade, prescription stimulant abuse has reached a plateau. In 1992, 0.2 percent of twelfth graders had misused Ritalin during the preceding year. By 2004, the rate had gone up to 5.1 percent. But this was virtually unchanged from the year before.

Stimulants: Short-Term Fix? Or Lifelong Drug?