Prescription stimulant medications are a class of drugs that include amphetamine-containing and methylphenidate-containing medications, which healthcare professionals may prescribe, in conjunction with other treatments and support, to manage symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).1,2 When taken as directed, these medications and other treatments can help manage symptoms of ADHD including hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention.2
Prescription stimulant medications are Schedule II controlled substances and, even when used as prescribed, have associated risks including misuse, abuse, and diversion, severe psychological dependence or substance use disorder, physical dependence, overdose, sudden death, stroke, heart attack, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and new or worsening mental or psychiatric problems.1,3-6 Prescription stimulant medication misuse can increase these risks.1,4 In addition, common side effects of prescription stimulant medications include decreased appetite, insomnia, and nausea.4
The information contained in this page is intended for patients diagnosed with ADHD who have received a prescription for a stimulant medication, and their caregivers.
These interactive videos, created in partnership with the Prescription Drug Safety Network, feature fictionalized scenarios that people with ADHD who are prescribed a stimulant medication may encounter.
The Prescription Drug Safety Network is a national coalition committed to empowering Americans with the skills and knowledge to make safe decisions about prescription medications through digital education.
All considerations within these videos for the treatment of ADHD, including the use of prescription stimulants, are from government or peer-reviewed sources. This information is intended to be informative and should not serve as medical guidance or replace discussions with a healthcare professional. If you suspect that someone you care for may be misusing, sharing or abusing stimulant medication, speak with their healthcare professional.
For information on addiction, misuse, abuse and diversion of prescription medications, please visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) free and confidential National Helpline can be reached at 1-800-662-HELP(4357) and 1-800-487-4889 (TTY).
Ben, a college freshman newly diagnosed with
ADHD, is having trouble adjusting to his new life on campus.
Leah, a young professional with
ADHD, is learning to manage her career and make responsible choices with her prescription stimulant medication.
When stored improperly, prescription stimulant medications can be found easily in a medicine cabinet or on a kitchen shelf. This increases the chances of family members or visitors accidentally taking or intentionally misusing the medicine.7,8
Get information on how proper storage can help prevent accidental or intentional misuse.
Proper and prompt removal of expired or unused prescription stimulant medications from the home can help reduce the possibility that others may accidentally take or intentionally misuse the medicine.8
1 National Institute on Drug Abuse. Drug Facts: Stimulant ADHD Medications: Methylphenidate and Amphetamines 2014. https://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/drugfacts_stimulantadhd_1.pdf. Accessed on April 2020.
2 The National Institute of Mental Health. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): The Basics. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd-the-basics/index.shtml. Accessed April 2020.
3 Drug Enforcement Administration. Controlled Substance Schedules. https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/. Accessed April 2020.
4 Kolar D, Keller A, Golfinopiulos M. Treatment of adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment 200;4(2): 389–403. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2518387/pdf/ndt-0402-389.pdf. Accessed February 2020.
5 National Institute on Drug Abuse. Drug Facts: Prescription Stimulants. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-stimulants. Updated June 2018. Accessed on April 2020.
6 Cottler LB, Striley CW, Lasopa SO. Assessing prescription stimulant use, misuse and diversion among youth 10 to 18 years of age. Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2013 September; 26(5): 511–519. Accessed April 2020.
7 Prescription for Disaster: How Teens Abuse Medicine.; 2018. https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2018-11/DEA_PrescriptionForDisaster-2018ed_508.pdf. Accessed April 2020.
8 S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. Unwanted Medications. https://scdhec.gov/environment/recycling-waste-reduction/unwanted-medications. Published 2018. Accessed April 2020.