Medical and Nonmedical Stimulant Use Among Adolescents: From Sanctioned to Unsanctioned Use

By: Christine Poulin

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Research question

Do adolescents on stimulant medication share their medication with others who do not have a medical use for this medication?


Self-report questionnaires were given to students in the 7,9,10, and 12th grades. Students were asked about the medical and non medical use of stimulants-including Ritalin, Cylert and Dexedrine.


5.3% of the students reported medical use of stimulants in the 12-month period prior to the survey. 14.7% of those students said they had given some medication to other students. 7.3% said they had sold medication, 4.3% reported theft of medication and 3.0% reported having been forced to give up medication.


Though most adolescents who are prescribed stimulant medication use them as intended, some students do not. The number of students who do not is significant enough that it is recommended that parents and prescribing physicians monitor closely the adolescent's use of medication-especially when long-term prescriptions are given. School personnel also should monitor since other students are receiving medications for nonmedical use. Males are more likely to sell medications.

Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2001; 165(8):1039-44