TUESDAY, April 18, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Risk for nonmedical use of prescription stimulants (NUPS) is higher for schools with a greater proportion of the student body that uses stimulant therapy for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a study published online April 18 in JAMA Network Open.

Sean Esteban McCabe, Ph.D., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues examined the school-level prevalence of ADHD, as well as the association between stimulant therapy for ADHD and NUPS, among U.S. secondary school students between 2005 and 2020. The analysis included survey response data from 3,284 U.S. secondary schools.

The researchers found that the past-year prevalence of NUPS ranged from 0 percent to more than 25 percent. At secondary schools with higher proportions of students who reported stimulant therapy for ADHD, the odds of an individual engaging in past-year NUPS were higher, after controlling for other individual-level and school-level covariates. For schools with the highest rates of prescription stimulant therapy for ADHD, students had 36 percent increased odds of past-year NUPS versus students attending schools with no medical use of prescription stimulants. School-level risk factors significantly associated with NUPS included schools in more recent cohorts (2015 to 2020), schools with higher proportions of parents with higher levels of education, schools located in non-Northeastern regions, schools located in suburban areas, schools with a higher proportion of White students, and schools with medium levels of binge drinking.

“It’s critical to balance the need for access to these medications while reducing the risk for misuse,” McCabe said in a statement.

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