Non-Medical Prescription Stimulant Use in Graduate Students: Relationship With Academic Self-Efficacy and Psychological Variables

J Atten Disord. 2016 Sep;20(9):741-53. doi: 10.1177/1087054714529816. Epub 2014 Apr 22.


Objective: The objective of this study was to examine graduate students' non-medical use of prescription stimulant medication, and the relationship between non-medical use of prescription stimulants with academic self-efficacy, psychological factors (i.e., anxiety, depression, and stress), and internal restlessness.

Method: The sample consisted of 807 graduate students from universities located in five geographic regions of the United States.

Results: Past-year rates of self-reported non-medical use were determined to be 5.9%, with overall lifetime prevalence of 17.5%. Observed self-reported non-medical use of prescription stimulant medications was significantly correlated with self-reported levels of anxiety and stress, various aspects of internal restlessness, and perceived safety of the medications.

Conclusion: Findings support graduate students' motivations of non-medical prescription stimulant use to be both academic and social in nature. Effective prevention and education efforts are needed to help address the non-medical use of prescription stimulants by graduate students on university campuses.

Keywords: ADHD; adult; stimulant misuse.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / administration & dosage*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation*
  • Prescription Drugs / administration & dosage*
  • Prevalence
  • Self Efficacy
  • Self Medication / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Students / psychology*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • United States
  • Universities


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Prescription Drugs