(HealthDay News) — According to a new survey sponsored by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, abuse of prescription stimulants is becoming “normalized” among college students and other young adults.

The nationally representative study, conducted by independent researcher Whitman Insight Strategies, surveyed 1,621 young adults (18–25 years of age) online this past summer, including 1,018 college students. The researchers found that half of all the young adults and 44% of the students reported they took stimulant drugs to study or improve their academic performance. And, 64% of the students believed the drugs helped them get a better grade or be more competitive at school or work. Forty-one percent of all the young adults and 31% of students took the drugs to stay awake. About a quarter of abusers (24% of all the young adults and 21% of students) said they took the stimulants to improve their work performance.

The survey also found that 28% of people legally prescribed stimulants have exaggerated their symptoms to get a larger dose. The same percentage reported sharing their medicine with friends. Just over half the adults (56%) surveyed said stimulants were easy to obtain, usually from friends, and most said their friends abused them as well.

“The findings shed a new and surprising light on the young adult who is abusing prescription stimulants,” Sean Clarkin, director of strategy and program management for the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, told HealthDay. “While there is some ‘recreational’ abuse, the typical misuser is a male college student whose grade point average is only slightly lower than that of non-abusers, but who is juggling a very busy schedule that includes academics, work and an active social life.”

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