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Schools Can Play Pivotal Role in Stimulant Misuse Prevention

July 01, 2019

Messages to youths on the dangers of stimulant misuse would carry the most weight if they came from schools or persons in popular culture, rather than if they were delivered by doctors or parents, suggest results of an adolescent survey presented at last month's College on Problems of Drug Dependence.

According to results published in a poster session on the Study of Non-Oral Administration of Prescription Stimulants (SNAPS), “Participants mentioned the need for presentations on the effects of drugs using data, by people who have been users earlier, or by a famous, cool or popular person who is appealing to their age.”

Schools and social media were frequently mentioned in the survey of young people ages 10 to 17 as ideal vehicles for delivering these drug prevention messages.

The SNAPS survey results build on a 2013 survey of adolescent use of prescription stimulants, illustrating ongoing concerns about non-medical use of stimulants and diversion of stimulant medication. A total of 1,777 youths from seven large cities in California, Texas and Florida participated in the survey, which was conducted by University of Florida researchers and funded by Arbor Pharmaceuticals, LLC.

The survey also illustrated some important points via open-ended questions to youths:

  • Stimulant misuse ranked second to marijuana as the biggest drug problem among youths ages 10 to 17 (42% of participating youths ranked marijuana highest, while 21% said stimulant misuse was the biggest problem). Vaping ranked third at 16%.

  • Feeling depressed or stressed due to school was cited as the biggest problem leading to initiation of drug use.

  • The poster states, “Easy availability of prescription drugs at a cheap cost was mentioned as a big problem in many schools.”

  • A preference among youths for face-to-face education led to the recommendation that schools incorporate mandatory education on prescription drug misuse and its consequences.

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