Appropriate and non-medical use of methylphenidate by residence students at a South African tertiary institution
Van Dyk, S.
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The purpose was to determine to what degree residence students from a tertiary academic institution use methylphenidate in both non-medical and appropr iate manners in the South African context. Reasons for use, doses consumed and side effec ts experienced were investigated. The study followed a quantitative cross-sectional design and used a structured questionnaire to gather data. Appropriate users were defined as students who have only used methylphenidate as prescribed, whereas non-medical users were d efined as those using methylphenidate without a prescription, or using prescribed met hylphenidate in a non-medical manner (for example in excessive doses). One in four residence students in the study population (N=328) have used methylphenidate at least once in their lives. Only 7.3% (n=24) were appropriate users, whereas 16.8% (n=55) were non-medical users. Half of the appropriate users have never been diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). All non- medical users used methylphenidate to study or concentrate; how ever, 4 participants used it for euphoria and 8 participants to party. The preferred product, es pecially by non-medical users, was extended release methylphenidate (72.7%). The most common side effects experienced were sleep difficulties (69.0%) and reduced appetite (67.1%). There is evidence to suggest that methylphenidate is being used in non-medical ways by residence students in the study population and that these students may experience more adverse events. Non -medical stimulant use has been considered an indicator of problematic behaviours in students. This study also presented emerging evidence of off-label methylphenidate prescriptions; t he safety of which has not been established