An estimated 17 percent of college students misuse drugs designed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a new analysis of previous studies.
Past studies have differed widely in their estimate of how many college students misuse ADHD drugs, ranging from 2 percent to 43 percent, MedicalXpress reports.
The researchers of the new review looked at 30 past studies, and calculated that overall, one in six college students misuse ADHD drugs. Misuse can mean taking more of the drug than has been prescribed, or using the medication without a prescription, the article notes.
Researcher Kate Flory of the University of South Carolina said many college students who misuse the drugs do so in an attempt to improve their academic performance. The new review suggests stimulant misuse is associated with poorer academic performance, she said.
Risk factors for students who abuse the drugs include having symptoms of ADHD, problems associated with alcohol use, and marijuana use, the review found. Greek organization membership was also associated with misuse.
The most common source of ADHD drugs was friends with prescriptions, the review found.
The findings appear in Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review.
A survey released last November found almost one-fifth of college students say they abuse prescription stimulants. The most commonly abused stimulants are medications used to treat ADHD, such as Ritalin, Adderall and Vyvanse. One in seven young adults ages 18 to 25 who aren't in college also said they abuse stimulant medications.
The survey, sponsored by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, included more than 1,600 young adults who answered questions online. The researchers found young adults say they use prescription stimulants to help them stay awake, study or improve their performance at work or school.