Research Articles

Methylphenidate use among students living in junior on-campus residences of the University of the Free State

P M Van Zyl, G Joubert, L Fechter, j Griesel, M Nel, A Honiball, L Serfontein, M Diedericks
South African Family Practice | Vol 59, No 4 : July/August| a4736 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v59i4.4736 | ©
Submitted: 28 August 2017 | Published:

About the author(s)

P M Van Zyl, University of the Free State, South Africa
G Joubert, University of the Free State, South Africa
L Fechter, University of the Free State, South Africa
j Griesel, University of the Free State, South Africa
M Nel, University of the Free State, South Africa
A Honiball, University of the Free State, South Africa
L Serfontein, University of the Free State, South Africa
M Diedericks, University of the Free State, South Africa

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Abstract

Background: The use of methylphenidate as cognitive enhancer is a growing trend among students at tertiary institutions globally. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of methylphenidate use and co-use with alcohol among on-campus residence students of the University of the Free State (UFS).

Methods: For this cross-sectional study, 10 junior residences were randomly selected and 1 761 anonymous questionnaires handed out for all students living in these residences during 2015. Data were collected on demographics, use of methylphenidate and co-use of methylphenidate with alcohol.

Results: In total, 585 questionnaires (response rate 33.2%) were received and analysed. Sixty-six (11.3%) participants reported past-year use of methylphenidate. While only 18 (27.3%) of past-year users were diagnosed with ADHD, 44 (66.7%) obtained their supply through doctors’ prescriptions, 21 (31.8%) from friends without payment, and 4 (6.1%) bought it from illegal sources. Of the past-year users, 24.2% had used methylphenidate before consuming alcohol.

Conclusion: Off-label prescribing, diversion of prescriptions and illegal trade in methylphenidate occur among students at the UFS. The frequent co-use of methylphenidate and alcohol may indicate a lack of information on the effects of the medication, rather than deliberate misuse.

(Full text of the research articles are available online at www.medpharm.tandfonline.com/ojfp)

S Afr Fam Pract 2017; DOI: 10.1080/20786190.2017.1292695

Keywords

alcohol co-use; cognitive enhancement; methylphenidate; off-label prescribing; students

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