Though prescription opioid abuse grabs most of the media attention, the truth is that prescription stimulant abuse is also increasingly widespread—especially in colleges and universities across the US. A reason why this abuse is so prevalent is the belief that using stimulants can improve students’ performance in school.


The stimulant abuse problem is significant.1


Up to 35% of college students abuse prescription stimulants, both for perceived performance enhancement and for recreational use (“getting high”), with ~1/3 of them manipulating the drug2

At Grünenthal, we believe stimulant abuse will continue to grow and attract greater attention from the FDA



Abuse has serious consequences


Emergency room visits by young adults aged 18-30 rose 300% between 2005 and 2011 for nonmedical, stimulant-related abuse incidents4


Cases of stimulant abuse with serious consequences are rising5


RADARS Poison Center data for moderate and major outcomes

Source: Researched Abuse, Diversion and Addiction-Related Surveillance (RADARS) System Poison Center Program. Total ER amphetamines and total ER oral methylphenidate rates per 1,000 URDD, moderate and major medical outcomes associated with intentional exposures, Q3 of 2007 through Q2 of 2011. Moderate effect medical outcomes are defined as exposures in which “the patient exhibited symptoms as a result of the exposure which are more pronounced, more prolonged or more of a systemic nature” but not life-threatening or otherwise permanently disabling, relative to minimally bothersome minor effects. Major effect medical outcomes are defined as life-threatening effects or those leading to “significant residual disability or disfigurement.”5




1. McCabe SE, West BT, Teter CJ, Boyd CJ. Trends in medical use, diversion, and nonmedical use of prescription medications among college students from 2003 to 2013: connecting the dots. Addict Behav. 2014;39(7):1176-1182.
2. Weyandt LL, Marraccini ME, Gudmundsdottir BG, et al. Misuse of prescription stimulants among college students: a review of the literature and implications for morphological and cognitive effects on brain functioning. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2013;21(5):385-407.
3. Data on file. Rx Stimulant Research. Whitman Insight Strategies, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids; October 8, 2014.
4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Stimulant-related emergency department visits rise 300 percent among younger adults. Published August 8, 2013. Accessed December 5, 2016.
5. Sembower MA, Ertischek MD, Buchholtz C, Dasgupta N, Schnoll SH. Surveillance of diversion and nonmedical use of extended-release prescription amphetamine and oral methylphenidate in the United States. J Addictive Dis. 2013;32(1):26-38.
6. Zosel A, Bucher Bartelson BB, Bailey E, Lowenstein S, Dart R. Characterization of adolescent prescription drug abuse and misuse using the Researched Abuse Diversion and Addiction-Related Surveillance (RADARS®) System. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2013;52(2):196-204.