The research made public Friday was done by Duke University’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience.
Five percent nearly 35 hundred students surveyed at Duke and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro say they've used drugs in the past six months. Nine percent said they've done it since starting college.
The drugs used were stimulants such as Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta.
The study found students who were likely to use the drugs felt that they had concentration and attention problems. Many said they had attention difficulties similar to students who reported a current diagnosis of ADHD.
“Students without prescriptions use ADHD medication primarily to enhance academic performance and may do so to ameliorate attention problems that they experience as undermining their academic success,” according to the study, which appears in the online edition of the Journal of Attention Disorders. “Students perceived non-medical use to be beneficial despite frequent reports of adverse reactions.” Side effects from taking the drugs included loss of appetite, sleeplessness, and irritability.
Despite the side effects, more than 70 percent of students said using ADHD medication without a prescription had been positive for them, and more than 70 percent said they “never” worried about becoming addicted to the medication.