Brain doping: stimulants use and misuse among a sample of Italian college students


college students


Introduction. The non-medical use of prescription stimulants (NMUPS) has become of great interest for its diffusion among university students, engaged in NUMPS to cope with the increasing load of academic stress. This consumption has been more throughoutly investigated in the U.S. due to its increasing trend. However, NMUPS has been reported also in Europe. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to examine stimulants misuse in an Italian area, identifying possible developments of the phenomenon in Italy.

Methods.To evaluate academic and extra-academic NMUPS (Methylphenidate and Amphetamines), an anonymous multiple-choice questionnaire was administrated to a representative sample of Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees students attending a University of North of Italy.

Data elaboration and Confidence Interval 95% were performed with Excel software 2013, while Fisher's exact tests with GraphPad INSTAT software.

Results. Data from 899 correctly compiled questionnaires were analyzed in this study.

11.3% of students reported NMUPS with an apparent greater use by students aged 18-22 years (73.5%) and without any gender predominance (p: n.s.). 57,8% of students used stimulants at most five times in six months, while the most frequent academic and extra-academic motives for use were respectively to improve concentration while studying (51.0%) and sports performance (25.5%). NMUPS was higher among working students than non-working ones (p <0.05), suggesting a stimulants use to cope with stress by the first ones.

Conclusion. These data suggest that NMUPS is quite relevant in the North of Italy, requiring preventive and monitoring measures, besides future analysis with a longitudinal multicenter study.


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