Data shows clearly that we are not even close to the all time peak of misuse of prescription stimulants by high-school students.
According to a front page story in Sunday’s New York Times, there’s an epidemic in America’s selective high schools: high-achieving students under pressure to succeed are increasingly abusing stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall, which they consider as essential as SAT tutors for getting into an Ivy League college. But the data from national surveys on stimulant use tells a very different story.
The Times‘ Alan Schwarz writes:
At high schools across the United States, pressure over grades and competition for college admissions are encouraging students to abuse prescription stimulants, according to interviews with students, parents and doctors. Pills that have been a staple in some college and graduate school circles are going from rare to routine in many academically competitive high schools, where teenagers say they get them from friends, buy them from student dealers or fake symptoms to their parents and doctors to get prescriptions.
The story contends that an estimated 15% to 40% of students at high-achieving high schools use prescription stimulants to get ahead; these drugs, designed to ease symptoms of ADHD, can sharpen focus and enhance performance in people without the disorder. But national statistics don’t really support the idea that misuse of these drugs among high-school students is growing. Indeed, according to the data, it would be hard to believe that modern-day kids are even approaching the rate of misuse of their parents’ or grandparents’ generations.