Characterizing prescription stimulant nonmedical use (NMU) among adults recruited from Reddit

Suzanne K. Vosburg, Rebekkah S. Robbins, Kevin M. Antshel, Stephen V. Faraone, Jody L. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: Increased prescription stimulant nonmedical use (NMU) is part of a growing polysubstance use landscape. The purpose of the present study was to characterize prescription stimulant NMU among adults reporting past 5-year non-oral prescription stimulant NMU. Methods: Adults who reported non-oral prescription stimulant NMU within the last 5 years were recruited by banner ads placed on the Reddit website between February and September 2019. Types of prescription stimulants used, routes of administration, preferred routes of administration, motivations for prescription stimulant NMU, concurrent substances used simultaneously during prescription stimulant NMU, illicit substances used and factors impacting prescription stimulant NMU were queried. Results: Respondents (n = 225) were male (86.2%), non-Hispanic (92.4%), white (78.2%), between 18 and 24 (48.0%) or 25–34 (43.1%) years with some amount of college education (81.3%). Most reported lifetime intranasal (93.8%) or oral use (85.2%). Prescription stimulants were diverted: 64.5% reported the prescription stimulants were given to them by a family or a friend and 10.5% reported that they had stolen these medications from a family or friend. Preferred route of administration was oral use (70.2%). Motivations to use were stratified by route of administration: intranasal (55.6%) or oral (63.0%) use was primarily endorsed as an attempt to enhance performance at work or at school; use by injection (57.1%) or smoking (62.5%) was primarily endorsed to get high. Most of the sample reported concurrent drug use (79.1%) including tobacco (57.3%), marijuana (52.0%), caffeine (47.6%) or alcohol (41.8%), among others. When excluding licit substances, 30.7% reported using 1 illicit substance concurrently with prescription stimulants and 25.3% reported using 2 or more illicit substances concurrently with prescription stimulants. Whether participants would undertake prescription stimulant NMU was determined by their work/school schedules or the location of the NMU (48.9%) whereas the route of administration employed was primarily influenced by the desired feeling or effect (56.9%). Conclusions: Adults reporting lifetime non-oral prescription stimulant NMU engage in substantial risky behaviors that in addition to alternate routes of administration include polysubstance use, diversion and concurrent substance use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100376
JournalAddictive Behaviors Reports
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • ADHD
  • Prescription stimulant non-medical use
  • Prescription stimulant non-oral use
  • Prescription stimulants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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