Nonmedical Use of Prescription Stimulants: Risk Factors, Outcomes, and Risk-Reduction Strategies

colorful prescription pills(Managed Healthcare Executive, August 3) Stimulant misuse is common among high school and college students. (6-8) A national multicohort study found that 9.5% of high school seniors used stimulant medications for nonmedical uses.6 Data reported by Garnier-Dykstra et al indicated that over a 4-year period, 61% of the college students who participated in the study were offered prescription stimulant medications at least once, and 31% of study participants reported using them for nonmedical purposes. (7) This is particularly concerning because another peer reviewed study by Wilens et al demonstrated that compared with controls (subjects who were not being treated with stimulant medications and had never misused), stimulant medication misusers are at a higher risk for ADHD and/or multiple drug-and/or alcohol-use disorders. (9)

Because of their abuse potential, both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recommend that clinicians assess for symptoms of substance abuse in adolescent patients receiving stimulant medications. (10,11) According to recently released guidelines from the AAP, “Clinicians should monitor the adolescent’s symptoms and prescription refill requests for signs of misuse or diversion of ADHD medication, including by parents, classmates, or other acquaintances of the adolescent.” (10) Read the rest on Managed Healthcare Executive's website.