Institution: The State University of New York at Binghamton, Binghamton, New York 13902
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder medications are used illicitly by undergraduate students, often to increase focus, memory, and attention in order to enhance their academic performance. Studies on such unprescribed use of psychostimulants suggest that these medications have countereffects and yield cognitive deficits. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between ADHD medication use and academic performance as indicated by individuals’ reported grade point average (GPA). Moreover, this study aimed to establish a relationship between the aversive side effects associated with ADHD medication use on physical health, mental health, and academic performance. A total of 879 individuals completed an anonymous Google Form survey that was administered at colleges/universities in the U.S. using social media platforms. The survey included questions regarding frequency of ADHD medication use, symptoms experienced, perception of safety, GPA, and general demographic information. Our results indicate that the use of ADHD medication is significantly correlated with a self-reported low GPA as well as an increase in reported mental health side effects (including depression, anxiety, and panic attacks) and physical side effects (including sleep disturbances, fatigue, headaches, and weight loss). Conversely, belief in the efficacy of ADHD medications in aiding academic performance was negatively correlated with a self-reported high GPA. It thus appears that the use of non-prescription ADHD medications is not associated with increased academic performance. Furthermore, mental and physical symptoms related to illicit ADHD medication use are likely to contribute to the observed poor academic performance. It is therefore recommended that college student populations are educated on these findings to decrease illicit use of ADHD medications as study aids.
Keywords: stimulant; dopamine; substance use and abuse; GPA; mental health; college