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May 03, 2014 06:35 AM EDT

Majority Ivy League Students Do Not Consider Study Drugs as Cheating, Study

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Majority of Ivy League students use study drugs and do not consider it as cheating, according to an American Academy of Pediatrics study.  

Researchers said that almost one in five students at an Ivy League college admitted to abusing a prescription stimulant and one-third of them did not perceive the exploitation to be fraudulent.

Stimulants are prescribed to treat Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Previous studies showed that students who do not suffer from ADHD were misusing these medications to  enhance academic performance.

The latest study focused on prescription drug abuse at selective colleges and whether students view ADHD medications as a form of deception. For the study, the researchers examined answers from 616 sophomores, juniors and seniors without ADHD who completed an anonymous online questionnaire in December 2012.

The researchers found that about 18 percent reported exploitation of a prescription stimulant for academic reasons at least once while attending college, while 24 percent of them took the drug eight or more times.

-          Stimulant misuse was most observed in juniors (24 percent).

-          Around 69 percent misused stimulants to complete an essay, 66 percent to prepare for an exam and 27 percent of them popped the drug to write a test.

-          Students who were part of a varsity sport and associated with a Greek house reported more stimulant abuse compared to their peers who belonged to either one or none.

-          33 percent of students claimed that stimulant exploitation for academics was not  deceptive, while 41 percent believed it to be fraudulent and 25 percent were uncertain.

-          Students who misused stimulants were more likely to regard the drugs as a common prevalence on their campus in comparison to those who had never abused an ADHD medication.

"While many colleges address alcohol and illicit drug abuse in their health and wellness campaigns, most have not addressed prescription stimulant misuse for academic purposes," senior investigator Andrew Adesman, MD, FAAP, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York, said in a press release. "Because many students are misusing prescription stimulants for academic, not recreational purposes, colleges must develop specific programs to address this issue."

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