Assessing prescription stimulant use, misuse, and diversion among youth 10–18 years of age

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Purpose of review

Assessing the medical and nonmedical use (NMU) of stimulants and diversion is a challenge, especially among youth, with different methods for recruitment and definitions of NMU. The field needs inexpensive, yet effective and reliable, methods of data collection to understand the prescription drug use problem. Most studies of youth are school or web-based, and conducted with teens.

Recent findings

The National Monitoring of Adolescent Prescription Stimulants Study recruited 11 048 youth 10–18 years of age from urban, rural, and suburban areas in 10 US cities using an entertainment venue intercept study. This review discusses the effectiveness of the method and results from four cross-sections as well as the representativeness of the sample. Lifetime prevalence of any stimulant use was 14.8%, with rates highest among rural 16–18 year olds. The rate of last 30-day use was 7.3%, with over half (3.9%) NMU. Nearly 12% of all youth (whether a user or not) reported lifetime incoming/outgoing diversion of prescription stimulants.


Because no study has focused on stimulant use among youth as young as 10 and 11, this study is a landmark for future comparisons and offers a unique strategy for sampling and data collection.

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