Misuse of "study drugs:" prevalence, consequences, and implications for policy

Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2006 Jun 9:1:15. doi: 10.1186/1747-597X-1-15.


Background: Non-medical/illegal use of prescription stimulants popularly have been referred to as "study drugs". This paper discusses the current prevalence and consequences of misuse of these drugs and implications of this information for drug policy.

Results: Study drugs are being misused annually by approximately 4% of older teens and emerging adults. Yet, there are numerous consequences of misuse of prescription stimulants including addiction, negative reactions to high dosages, and medical complications. Policy implications include continuing to limit access to study drugs, finding more safe prescription drug alternatives, interdiction, and public education.

Conclusion: Much more work is needed on prescription stimulant misuse assessment, identifying the extent of the social and economic costs of misuse, monitoring and reducing access, and developing prevention and cessation education efforts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amphetamines / administration & dosage*
  • Amphetamines / adverse effects
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / chemically induced
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / administration & dosage*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / adverse effects
  • Emotions / drug effects
  • Health Policy*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / chemically induced
  • Methylphenidate / administration & dosage*
  • Methylphenidate / adverse effects
  • Prescription Drugs / administration & dosage*
  • Prescription Drugs / adverse effects
  • Prevalence
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / etiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Universities / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult


  • Amphetamines
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Prescription Drugs
  • Methylphenidate