Adam M. Kaye: 0000-0002-7224-3322

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Psychiatry International







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Stimulants are effective in treating attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Psychiatrist Charles Bradley first made this discovery in 1937 when he found that children treated with amphetamines showed improvements in school performance and behavior. Between 1995 and 2008, stimulants to treat ADHD increased six-fold among American adults and adolescents at an annual rate of 6.5%. Stimulants without a prescription, known as nonmedical use or misuse, have also increased. The highest rates of nonmedical prescription drug misuse in the United States are seen most notably in young adults between 18 and 25 years, based on data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in 2021. Aside from undergraduate students, nonmedical prescription stimulant use is prevalent among medical students worldwide. A recent literature review reported the utilization of stimulants without a prescription in 970 out of 11,029 medical students. The percentages of medical students across the country misusing stimulants varied from 5.2% to 47.4%. Academic enhancement, reported in 50% to 89% of college students with stimulant misuse, is the most common reason for nonmedical stimulant use. With the increasing use of stimulants among adolescents and adults, it is unclear what long-term outcomes will be since little data are available that describe differences in how side effects are experienced for prescribed and non-prescribed users. The present narrative review focuses on these adverse effects in this population and the reasonings behind misuse and nonmedical use.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.