Adderall Abuse in Colleges

Substance use disorder does not always mean that an individual is taking an illicit drug.

In some cases, a prescription medication is used in a way that is inappropriate according to the directions of a doctor or for recreational purposes.

Among the common prescription medications that are showing an increased rate of abuse among college students in California is Adderall.

Prevalence of Adderall Abuse

Although the medication was originally designed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, it is abused with shocking regularity among college students throughout the country.
The more competitive colleges, like Stanford and the UC schools, have a higher rate of abuse than others due to the competitive nature of the school.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Adderall abuse accounts for roughly 7.6 percent of men and women in treatment for addiction each year. It is among the highest rate of prescription drug abuse and many colleges have a much higher rate of abuse than the national average.

Abuse Among College Students

The highest rate of Adderall abuse is found among college students, particularly students who attend competitive colleges.

The University of Southern California reports that roughly 15 percent of college students have admitted to using psychotherapeutic drugs like Adderall since their time in school. Around 7 percent of those students stated that the reason was related to improving their attention span or increasing their grades.

Among college students Adderall and similar drugs have gained a reputation for improving the grades of students or improving their attention span so that it is easier to study. The prevalence of abuse is primarily associated with the limited knowledge of potential addiction risks and the mistaken idea that it will help improve the grades of students.

Schools with a highly competitive student body, such as Stanford, usually have higher than average rates of Adderall abuse due to the supposed improvement to attention span.

Concerns Associated with High Prevalence of Adderall Abuse

[twocol_one]The Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, reports that Adderall abuse is not the only concern among college students. The increased rate of Adderall abuse is a cause for concern because it also increases the risk that a student will take other substances at the same time.

The SAMHSA reports that college students who admitted to using Adderall for non-medical purposes within the last year also reported binge drinking and marijuana abuse in shockingly high numbers.

Roughly 89.5 percent of college students who used Adderall also engaged in binge drinking within the past month when the survey was taken. The rate of marijuana abuse was slightly lower, at a rate of 79.9 percent, but both figures are much higher than the rate of binge drinking or marijuana abuse when compared to students who had never taken Adderall.

Along with the dangers of binge drinking and abusing several substances, Adderall is a potentially dangerous drug that can have negative effects on the body. Since it is an amphetamine drug, the potential for addiction is high.


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Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance use disorder, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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