Study: Correlation between prevalence of stimulant therapy for ADHD and prescription misuse in schools

A new study found that middle and high school students who misuse prescription stimulants for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) tend to go to schools where more students are taking prescription stimulants for ADHD.

The implication of the study is that students who wish to misuse the medication have a much easier time obtaining it in schools where the medication is already in heavy use.

“The key takeaway here is not that we need to lessen prescribing of stimulants for students who need them, but that we need better ways to store, monitor, and screen for stimulant access and use among youth to prevent misuse,” said study author Sean Esteban McCabe, Ph.D. “There’s variation in stimulant misuse across different schools, so it’s important to assess schools and implement personalized interventions that work best for each school.”

The study looked at data from 2005 to 2020 from the Monitoring the Future study, which surveys drug use among American adolescents. The study aims to help prevent misuse by informing effective strategies to support teens.

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