ADHD; College Students; Prescription Stimulant Misuse
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder characterized by developmentally inappropriate levels of hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattention. These symptoms result in impairments for individuals across multiple settings and are developmentally inappropriate. While common during childhood, symptoms have been shown to persist into adulthood for 50% or more of those diagnosed before reaching age 18. Although prescription stimulants have been shown to benefit those with ADHD, increased popularity of prescription stimulant misuse among those without ADHD has been reported, despite the potentially harmful side effects that may accompany this use. Specifically, nonmedical use of prescription stimulants during adolescence led to increased risk of crime commitment and increased risk for subsequent addictions to other substances. Despite the negative effects of prescription stimulants on those misusing them, as many as 7% of undergraduate college students reported prescription stimulant medication misuse.
The present NIH R01 funded study, Trajectories Related to ADHD in College (TRAC) is a 5-year longitudinal study conducted by Dr. Arthur Anastopoulos at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (Lead Principal Investigator), Dr. George DuPaul at Lehigh University (Co-Principal Investigator), and Dr. Lisa Weyandt at the University of Rhode Island (Co-Principal Investigator). Through my work on this study, it became clear that although research concerning the patterns of misuse among college students has been performed and documented, the association between those with ADHD and nonmedical use of prescription stimulants has not been well studied. More specifically, research exploring the relationship between the severity of ADHD symptoms and prescription stimulant misuse is sparse. Therefore, the aim of this honors thesis is to assess the misuse among students both with, and without, ADHD, and to explore whether males and females differ in reported rates of prescription stimulant misuse.