Subjective Report of Side Effects of Prescribed and Nonprescribed Psychostimulant Use in Young Adults

Subst Use Misuse. 2017 Mar 21;52(4):548-552. doi: 10.1080/10826084.2016.1240694. Epub 2016 Nov 21.


Background: Side effects of prescribed and nonprescribed psychostimulant use are understudied.

Objectives: The study examined side effects of prescribed and nonprescribed psychostimulant use in a college sample with attention to possible gender differences.

Methods: 2716 undergraduates (1448 male) between the ages of 17 and 57 years (M = 19.43 years, SD = 1.7 years) completed an online survey that included questions about the subjective side effects of prescribed and nonprescribed psychostimulant use.

Results: Results suggested that prescribed users more frequently reported side effects, compared to nonprescribed users. For prescribed users, females more frequently reported appetite, somatic, and anxiety-related side effects compared to males. For nonprescribed users, while females reported more somatic and anxiety-related side effects, males more frequently reported loss of sex drive and sweating as side effects. Conclusions/Importance: These findings suggest prescribed users of psychostimulants more frequently report side effects with prominent gender differences in line with gender roles.

Keywords: Psychostimulants; gender differences; nonprescribed use; side effects.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / adverse effects*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prescription Drugs / adverse effects
  • Sex Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Prescription Drugs