ADHD medications (such as Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse) are frequently misused on college campuses to enhance academic performance. Many students are unaware of the adverse effects of the drug. Research shows that ADHD medication misuse is associated with Prefrontal Cortex (PFC) dysfunction, and may lead to impaired decision making abilities. This may lead to riskier decision making by ADHD stimulant-dependent college students. Higher risk taking behaviors are associated with comorbid illicit substance use (such as cocaine, marijuana, prescription painkillers). This study seeks to assess whether ADHD medication misuse correlates with risk-taking behaviors. An anonymous survey including questions on frequency of ADHD, alcohol and illicit drug use was completed by 863 college students. Data was analyzed using Pearson's Correlation Coefficient in SPSS Version 25.0. Results revealed significant positive correlations between alcohol, cocaine and/or marijuana use and once a day, once a month, and once a year ADHD medication use. There were also positive correlations depicted between cocaine and recreational prescription painkiller use and not being dissuaded by any information against taking ADHD medications - including evidence for negative physiological effects, real life stories about ADHD medication use, or even negative personal effects experienced. These behaviors suggest potential PFC dysfunction in college students illicitly using ADHD medications.
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Ricci, Adelle; Malik, Sana; Norton, Haley; Cregin, Dennis; Genussa, Lee Ann; Guo, Camille; Koltun, Rebecca; Kristoferson, Eva; Umeozor, Devon; and Begdache, Lina, "Potential Connection Between ADHD Medication Misuse and Risk-Taking Behaviors" (2020). Research Days Posters Spring 2020. 74.