Stimulant Use Among Undergraduate Nursing Students

J Addict Nurs. 2018 Apr/Jun;29(2):84-89. doi: 10.1097/JAN.0000000000000219.


Research reveals a decade-long increase in prescription drug misuse (PDM) of stimulant medication used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and college students in particular are at the highest risk for these behaviors. However, PDM has not been specifically studied in undergraduate nursing students, and thus, this study fills a gap in our knowledge of PDM of stimulants. This descriptive study used a cross-sectional, convenience sample of undergraduate nursing students (N = 249) attending a large midwestern university. The purpose of this study was to examine the medical use, medical misuse, nonmedical use, and diversion of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder stimulant medications as well as to compare CRAFFT scores among these four groups of stimulant users. A 28-item, Web-based survey was sent via email to all registered undergraduate nursing students during the winter semester of 2017. Results showed that 10.4% of respondents used prescription stimulants nonmedically in the past 12 months, and over half (51.5%) of respondents screened positive on the CRAFFT, an indication of possible alcohol and drug misuse behaviors. In addition, there was a strong association between medical misuse and nonmedical use and positive CRAFFT scores. The high percentage of positive CRAFFT scores is a concern and indicates a pressing need for nursing faculty to evaluate and address substance use by nursing students.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Michigan / epidemiology
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Students, Nursing*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / nursing
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universities
  • Young Adult


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants