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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Misuse of "study drugs:" prevalence, consequences, and implications for policy

Steve Sussman1*, Mary Ann Pentz2, Donna Spruijt-Metz2 and Toby Miller3

Author Affiliations

1 Preventive Medicine and Psychology, Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research, University of Southern California, 1000 South Fremont, Unit #8, Alhambra, CA 91803, USA

2 Preventive Medicine, Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research, University of Southern California, 1000 South Fremont, Unit #8, Alhambra, CA 91803, USA

3 Sociology, University of California-Riverside, 1206 Watkins Hall, Riverside, CA 92521, USA

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Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy 2006, 1:15  doi:10.1186/1747-597X-1-15

Published: 9 June 2006

Abstract

Background

Non-medical/illegal use of prescription stimulants popularly have been referred to as "study drugs". This paper discusses the current prevalence and consequences of misuse of these drugs and implications of this information for drug policy.

Results

Study drugs are being misused annually by approximately 4% of older teens and emerging adults. Yet, there are numerous consequences of misuse of prescription stimulants including addiction, negative reactions to high dosages, and medical complications. Policy implications include continuing to limit access to study drugs, finding more safe prescription drug alternatives, interdiction, and public education.

Conclusion

Much more work is needed on prescription stimulant misuse assessment, identifying the extent of the social and economic costs of misuse, monitoring and reducing access, and developing prevention and cessation education efforts.