Survey Finds 1 In 5 College Students Have Abused Prescription Medication

A new survey released by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids found that abuse of prescription stimulants is "becoming normalized" among college students and other young adults.

Titled "Under Pressure: College Students And The Abuse of RX Stimulants," the survey polled over 1,600 young adults (students and non-students ages 18-25) and found that among the college students who participated, one in five had abused prescription stimulants -- such as Adderall, Ritalin or Vyvanse -- at least once in their lifetime. One in seven non-students said they had abused the medication at least once.

Among the college students who reported abusing, their top reason for doing so was to study and improve academic performance (44 percent), while 31 percent said they abused just to stay awake.

“These new data confirm that college students are misusing and abusing Rx stimulants in a misguided effort to manage their lives," Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, said in a news release, "because they are burning the candle at both ends, feeling the need to perform better and achieve their academic and social goals.”

The survey also found that, among subjects who'd been legally prescribed medication, 28 percent shared it with friends, and 52 percent reported being pressured by their friends to do so. Additionally, 28 percent reported exaggerating their symptoms to obtain a larger dosage of their medication from their physicians.

“This fact presents an opportunity for parents and health care professionals to play a pivotal role in helping students better manage their time and the commitments that are stressing them out," Pasierb said. "And most importantly, they can and should counsel young people who have been legitimately prescribed medication for ADHD to not compromise their own health by sharing or selling those medications.”

Although there's debate among students over whether or not prescription drug abuse constitutes cheating, some schools are nevertheless taking active steps to prohibit prescription drug abuse.

The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids provides a toll-free helpline at 1-855-DRUGFREE, a nationwide support service open Monday through Friday from 10:00 – 6:00 p.m. EST, offering assistance to parents and other primary caregivers of children who want to talk to someone about their child’s drug use and drinking.



  • <strong>Princeton, New Jersey

THE TOWN:</strong> Princeton is ideally positioned for a weekend getaway—equidistant from Ph
    Princeton, New Jersey THE TOWN: Princeton is ideally positioned for a weekend getaway—equidistant from Philadelphia and New York City, with Princeton University (founded in 1756) at its center. When the leaves turn on campus in the fall, the number of visitors always goes up—those Gothic buildings look best against a backdrop of oranges and ambers. EAT: We love Teresa's in Palmer Square for casual Italian, or Blue Point Grill for fresh seafood. STAY: Try the Peacock Inn, an 18-room boutique hotel with a great restaurant helmed by Chef Manuel Perez (formerly of Restaurant Nicholas, one of NJ's top restaurants). Nassau Inn is an old stand-by for alumni, just blocks from campus. PLAY: Princeton University Art Museum, the Princeton Public Library, and McCarter Theatre Centre keep culture lovers happy, while outdoorsy types can visit Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park for canoeing, hiking, and fishing. © Ellen Isaacs / Alamy
  • <strong>Burlington, Vermont

THE TOWN: </strong>Located an hour south of the Canadian border along Lake Champlain, Burlingt
    Burlington, Vermont THE TOWN: Located an hour south of the Canadian border along Lake Champlain, Burlington itself offers much more than undergrad-friendly activities at the University of Vermont (founded in 1791). It's a place that satisfies the demands of both the outdoorsman and the urbanite. EAT: In the city center, American Flatbread turns out creative pies made in the restaurant's wood-fired oven, along with drafts from Zero Gravity beers, a local brewery. For late-night eats, stop by Nectar's, which is famous for its gravy fries—it also hosts live music most nights. STAY: The new luxury (and environmentally conscious) Hotel Vermont is located just off the lakefront, while the bed and breakfast Lang House takes its name seriously—you won't just get scones and a cup of coffee in the morning. PLAY: Vermont is a ski mecca, with Stowe and Jay's Peak about an hour and change from Burlington, but the city's summer activities are just as fulfilling. Hike the trails in the Intervale, just minutes from downtown, or take a dip in Lake Champlain as the sun sets over the distant Adirondacks. © Philip Scalia / Alamy
  • <strong>Ann Arbor, Michigan

THE TOWN:</strong> A 45-minute drive west of Detroit, Ann Arbor is synonymous with the Univers
    Ann Arbor, Michigan THE TOWN: A 45-minute drive west of Detroit, Ann Arbor is synonymous with the University of Michigan. During college football season, around 100,000 people descend on the Big House (the third-largest stadium in the world) every other Saturday to watch the Michigan Wolverines face off against their Big Ten rivals. EAT: One of Ann Arbor's most famous establishments is Zingerman’s, which opened its first outpost—a delicatessen—in 1982. Now, it has two other shops (the Roadhouse and Bakehouse) that also sell hearty comfort food. You could also pick up fruit and veggies at Ann Arbor’s Farmers' Market or sample from the food trucks in the historic Kerrytown neighborhood. STAY: The Bell Tower Hotel is a popular pick with university students and their families, thanks to its central location (and special packages for newbie Wolverines). More quaint accommodations can be found at the Stone Chalet Bed and Breakfast, a country-style oasis in the middle of downtown. PLAY: Ann Arbor has plenty of things for culture vultures to do: Visit the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) to see works by Sol LeWitt, Monet, Kara Walker, Andy Warhol, and more. The Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, also on campus, are excellent destinations for nature lovers. Leon Halip/Getty Images
  • <strong>Bloomington, Indiana

THE TOWN:</strong> Bloomington is another charming Midwestern college town with a sports scen
    Bloomington, Indiana THE TOWN: Bloomington is another charming Midwestern college town with a sports scene that sometimes seems to dominate the city's other cultural offerings. But catching one of the Indiana University Hoosiers' games isn't the only thing to do in town: Bloomington is home to a growing tech scene, as well as plenty of quirky shops and cafes. EAT: Beer lovers would do well to visit the Crazy Horse Food and Drink Emporium; its Around the World in 80 Beers program offers rewards for patrons who finish drafts of every brew on tap (yes, there are 80). Head to Feast Bakery Cafe for Sunday brunch, where you'll find classic dishes (French toast, biscuits with jam and honey) alongside more creative options (lamb over couscous, a breakfast tamale with tomatillo salsa). STAY: Book a room at the Scholar’s Inn Bed and Breakfast, located in a 125-year-old converted mansion that's blocks from the university. Each of the rooms is named for an intellectual, such as Caleb Mills, who played a pivotal role in creating Indiana's public-school system. PLAY: Pate Hollow Trail is a ten-minute drive from downtown and the Fairfax State Recreation Area just a short a drive south. There are also abundant cultural attractions, including the WonderLab Museum of Science, Health, and Technology, an interactive institution that's great for families. © Don Smetzer / Alamy
  • <strong>Ithaca, New York

THE TOWN: </strong>Yes, we know, "Ithaca is gorges," but there's more to this upstate New York to
    Ithaca, New York THE TOWN: Yes, we know, "Ithaca is gorges," but there's more to this upstate New York town than its gorges (and pun potential). Home to two major institutions of higher learning—Ithaca College and Cornell University—the city also has plenty of non-college things to do, thanks to its proximity to the Finger Lakes. EAT: Moosewood Restaurant, one of the most famous vegetarian eateries in the U.S., is located in downtown Ithaca. For more casual fare, the Ithaca Bakery has an impressive array of sandwiches, salads, and baked goods, made with local ingredients. Beer lovers should hit the Ithaca Brewing Company's tap room, which serves some of the brewery's most popular pints, including the hoppy Flower Power IPA. STAY: The Argos Inn, a brand-new boutique hotel, isn't big—there are only 10 guest rooms. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in style, with each room outfitted with luxe linens and thoughtful decor touches (heated floors in the bathroom, Apple TVs in the rooms, etc.). The adjacent bar offers a bevy of cocktails, both historic (the Boulevardier, a daiquiri from Ernest Hemingway's recipe) and modern (a drink named for the artist Peaches combines whiskey, peach liqueur, and lemon juice). PLAY: You'd be remiss if you didn't check out some of the many gorges in the area. They're fed by a series of spectacular waterfalls—some of the best are Buttermilk Falls, Ithaca Falls, and Taughannock Falls. Yearly events at Ithaca Commons, a pedestrian mall downtown, include the Apple Harvest Festival in the fall, the Chili Cook-Off in the winter, and the Ithaca Festival in the summer. Angry Mom Records, located in the basement of a used bookstore, is a must visit for vinyl fiends; more than 20,000 LPs are in stock at any given time. © Dennis MacDonald / Alamy
  • <strong>Charlottesville, Virginia

THE TOWN:</strong> Charlottesville was the longtime home of Founding Father Thomas Jeffe
    Charlottesville, Virginia THE TOWN: Charlottesville was the longtime home of Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, and he's responsible for some of its most distinguished landmarks—Monticello, obviously, but also the University of Virginia, which Jefferson founded in the early 19th century. Today, many of the old buildings—including the iconic Rotunda, designed by Jefferson—remain, but Charlottesville is a thoroughly modern city. EAT: The Ivy Inn, a homey spot serving creative American fare, is one excellent option—the chef, Angelo Vangelopoulos, was nominated for a 2014 James Beard Award. Ace Biscuit & Barbecue serves traditional Southern dishes, including pulled pork and fried chicken on a biscuit with pimento cheese. (Mercy.) Those looking for a strong historical fix can head down to the Michie Tavern, a public house that first opened in 1784 and makes an effort to mimic the colonial American atmosphere. STAY: As the official UVA hotel, you're bound to see undergrads and their parents at the Boars Head Inn; but its plush rooms, beautiful grounds, and calming spa treatments are unlike what you might expect from a college-branded hotel. The Dinsmore House Inn, meanwhile, has plenty of history: It was built by James Dinsmore, an architect who worked on some of the UVA buildings. Now, it's a quaint hotel with fewer than 10 rooms, and amenities like afternoon tea services. PLAY: Aside from its historical and artistic importance, Monticello also has a wide array of beautiful natural features, including the Saunders-Monticello Trail. Downtown Charlottesville is also home to the Paramount Theatre, first built in 1931 and recently restored; it now hosts movie screenings and live performances. You could spend more than a weekend hitting all 30 wineries on the Monticello Wine Trail. © Philip Scalia / Alamy
  • <strong>Chapel Hill, North Carolina

THE TOWN: </strong>Each year, 29,000 students descend on Chapel Hill, which basically
    Chapel Hill, North Carolina THE TOWN: Each year, 29,000 students descend on Chapel Hill, which basically doubles as the college campus, for basketball season (where Michael Jordan got his start). The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill is among the oldest public universities in the U.S., but in recent years, the town has become renowned for its food scene and cultural attractions, not just its collegiate activities. EAT: Mapleview Farm has freshly made ice cream that's worth skipping dinner for. We also enjoy James Beard Award-winning Lantern Restaurant, Sunrise Biscuits (which is so popular on the weekend, the line of cars at the drive-through stretches to the highway), and Top of the Hill, which doubles as a popular nightlife spot with great views down Franklin Street, Chapel Hill’s main drag. STAY: For lodging, you cannot go wrong with the historic Carolina Inn located right on campus. PLAY: The town that calls the North Carolina Tar Heels its own is home to a bustling music scene with great bands playing at Cat’s Cradle and Local 506 weekly. Activities abound, including the Morehead Planetarium (great for the whole family) and the beautiful North Carolina Botanical Garden. © Ian Dagnall / Alamy
  • <strong>Providence, Rhode Island

THE TOWN: </strong>For many years, Providence was probably best known for its college sce
    Providence, Rhode Island THE TOWN: For many years, Providence was probably best known for its college scene: Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design, and Providence College all bring thousands of students to the area each year. But thanks to its up-and-coming nightlife scene, Providence is gaining a reputation beyond that of a sleepy college town. EAT: Providence's cocktail scene is legit, with both bars and restaurants catering to thirsty tipplers. To see this in action, head to Cook and Brown Public House, which serves creative drinks alongside gastropub fare. Julian's, a popular brunch spot on the west side, lives up to the hype, with enough options—including several different eggs Benedicts, and vegan scrambles—to satisfy most travelers. STAY: The Dean Hotel, which was named to Condé Nast Traveler's Hot List in 2014, is an excellent bargain hotel: There's a beer garden, karaoke on-site, and rooms fit for budget-minded travelers (you can stay in bunk beds, if you want a truly dorm-like experience). PLAY: One of the city’s most popular events is WaterFire, an annual festival in which a series of floating steel braziers are set ablaze on the surface of Waterplace Park. For culture, head to the RISD Museum, where you can see the work of former and current students. © Sean Pavone / Alamy
  • <strong>Boulder, Colorado

THE TOWN: </strong>The University of Colorado at Boulder is pretty much the biggest thing going
    Boulder, Colorado THE TOWN: The University of Colorado at Boulder is pretty much the biggest thing going in this small town; its students and employees make up nearly half of the city’s population. The campus lies at the foot of the continental divide, and the soaring Rocky Mountains—visible from almost every vantage point—inform much of the culture and nature of the city. EAT: You'll wait in line for a sandwich from Snarf's, but it'll be worth it—the specialty sandwiches (like a French dip with au jus, or eggplant parm) are huge, and hugely popular. Trident Booksellers and Cafe, a Boulder mainstay, has been serving coffee (roasted in Boulder) and books for more than two decades. For fine dining, you can't go wrong at the award-winning Frasca Food and Wine, which won a James Beard Award in 2013 for its "outstanding wine program." STAY: The St. Julien Hotel & Spa is close to Pearl Street, the pedestrian-only downtown street, but it feels removed from the town. Rooms face the Rocky Mountains, and the spa offers plenty of pampering treatments—massages, scrubs, the usual—to leave you feeling relaxed. PLAY: There are outdoor activities aplenty in Boulder. Go skiing or snowboarding at Eldora mountain resort, approximately 20 miles from downtown; ride a mountain bike or take a trip on horseback at Betasso; or hike the Mount Sanitas Trail which begins just at the edge of town. Chautaqua Park (pictured) has hiking trails and Instagram-worthy views of the Rockies. © Caroline Commins / Alamy
  • <strong>Berkeley, California

THE TOWN:</strong> The University of California's Berkeley campus is the oldest campus in the
    Berkeley, California THE TOWN: The University of California's Berkeley campus is the oldest campus in the UC system; the university is also one of the biggest employers in the city. But the city is also known for its rebellious vibe, which was most prominent in the hippie-centric ’60s and ’70s but has also held true, to some degree, into the 21st century. Both the college and the counterculture influence the culture of Berkeley in equal measure. EAT: You can't talk about Berkeley without mentioning Chez Panisse, Alice Waters' pioneering farm-to-table restaurant, which has been open for more than 40 years. For one of the best brunches in town, head to La Note, whose menu takes inspiration from Provence for dishes like brioche pain perdu (French toast). STAY: Though it's a boutique hotel now, the Bancroft Hotel was once a campus building, used by the College Women's Club. It was recently converted into a 22-room inn, and it takes pride in the fact that it's eco-friendly; rooms feature organic bedding, locally-made toiletries, and energy-efficient appliances. PLAY: Live music options exist in spades, but the best-known venue in Berkeley is UC's Greek Theater, which has hosted a plethora of acts throughout the years. Amoeba Music, which opened nearly 25 years ago on Telegraph Avenue, remains one of the country's most popular record shops. And you'd do well to hit the Berkeley Farmers Market, which has three locations throughout the city—the downtown market, open on Saturdays, is particularly popular. © Ian Dagnall / Alamy