Nonmedical Use of Prescription Stimulants
Oakland County, MichiganHealthInformationNonmedical Use of Prescription Stimulants

Nonmedical Use of Prescription Stimulants

What is nonmedical use of prescription stimulants?

Prescription stimulants, such as Ritalin® and Adderall®, are sometimes used by people who do not have a prescription for it or used in ways other than prescribed by a doctor (i.e. extremely high doses, snorting, injecting). Prescription stimulants are often abused for non-medical reasons. For example:

  • For recreational purposes (i.e. to get high)
  • Students may use prescription stimulants believing that they will increase concentration or help with studying/cramming for a test

Where do individuals get the prescription stimulants they use non-medically?

Many studies have shown that non-medically used prescription stimulants are obtained from a friend who has a prescription. Often, these friends will sell or give away their pills.

What are the health effects of taking prescription stimulants non-medically?

Taking a pill that's been prescribed for someone else's weight, symptoms, and body chemistry, or taking more than the right dose for your own body can be harmful. Examples include: uncontrollable mood changes, increased blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature. When the effects wear off, extreme fatigue and depression could occur.

Repeated abuse of stimulants can cause:

  • Increased blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature
  • Feelings of hostility and paranoia 
  • Increased risk for addiction
  • Decreased appetite and sleep                                                  

What behaviors are associated with non-medical use of prescription stimulants?

  • Excessive drinking and other drug use   
  • Lower GPA            
  • Skipping classes                                           
  • Attention difficulties                                 
  • Psychiatric distress or depressed mood
  • Low perceived harmfulness of using prescription stimulants non-medically

What can parents do?

  • Supervise their child's activities, know who their friends are and monitor their surroundings.
  • Talk to their child about the risks of using prescription stimulants non-medically. Not getting enough sleep, skipping class, and partying through college while taking prescription stimulants non-medically to study and cram could be harmful in the long run.
  • Do not condone or assist with the non-medical use of these drugs.  This is a red flag for substance use.
  • Recognize that sharing of prescription medications with intent to help your child get better grades can be harmful  and  is illegal.
  • If you suspect your child might be non-medically using prescription stimulants, seek a comprehensive evaluation for your child to determine the presence and severity of substance use and/or other mental health problems, including ADHD, anxiety, and/or depression.
  • Encourage healthy habits like getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, and effective time management.


Alcohol and Drug Abuse

  • Alcoholics Anonymous: 248-332-3521
  • Alanon: 248-706-1020
  • Narcotics Anonymous:  248-543-7200