Prescription stimulant use among young adult college students: Who uses, why, and what are the consequences?

Robert T. Fairman, Milkie Vu, Regine Haardörfer, Michael Windle, Carla J. Berg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine prescription stimulant use among college students, particularly use with versus without prescriptions or attention deficit hyperactive disorder (attention-deficit/hyperactivitydisorder (ADHD)) diagnoses. Participants: Data were drawn from a diverse sample of college students from seven colleges/universities in Georgia participating. Methods: Measures assessed ADHD-specific factors, prescription stimulant use, access, motives, side effects, and covariates. Results: Of the 219 students reporting prescription stimulant use (average age 20.72 years, 54.8% female, 82.1% White), 45.7% did not have prescriptions or ADHD diagnoses. Correlates of use without prescriptions/diagnoses included lower parental education, attending private school, not having depression- or anxiety-related diagnoses, and past 30-day marijuana and tobacco use. Those without prescriptions/diagnoses were more likely to use to stay awake longer, to have more enjoyable time, and to party longer; they also reported fewer adverse side effects. Conclusions: Campuses should educate students about ADHD, facilitate screening and treatment, and emphasize adverse consequences of recreational use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)767-774
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of American College Health
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2021


  • college students
  • motives for use
  • prescription stimulants
  • stimulants
  • young adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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