The face of stimulant addiction: Who uses stimulants? (INFOGRAPHIC)

What does the typical stimulant user look like? In this infographic you can explore the age, gender, past year and past month meth use, polydrug use statistics, and emergency room visits.

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Meet the stimulants

Stimulants can be prescription medications, including:

  • Adderall
  • Dexedrine
  • Ritalin
  • Concerta
  • Desoxyn
  • Ephedrine

Or stimulants can also include illicit substances such as:

The face of stimulant addiction: Who uses stimulants? (INFOGRAPHIC)

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  • cocaine
  • crack
  • crystal meth

Misusing stimulants, whether prescription medications or illicit drugs, can lead to addiction. Addiction is when you continue to seek out and take stimulants even though you know it is damaging you health and life, ruining your relationships, and causing you problems in school or at work.

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How do they work?

How do stimulants work? Stimulants work by acting on the central nervous system (CNS) to increase a user’s alertness and cognitive function. They make you feel more alert and focused. However, stimulants also raise your blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing.

Who uses stimulants?

In 2012, there were an estimated 1.2 million nonmedical users (aged 12+) of prescription stimulants in the United States.

Stimulant abuse and addiction is most common among adults aged 26 and older. In fact, about 63% of stimulant users are older than 26 years…which means they represent a significant part of the country’s workforce. How many of these stimulant users are employed? Here is a breakdowns of statistics by employment status of stimulant users:

  • 38% are employed
  • 30% are only part-time employed
  • 15% are unemployed
  • 17% are out of the labor force

Still, age is a factor for use. In 2011, less than one in ten adolescents reported using Ritalin or Adderall nonmedically during the year prior to being surveyed. Among adolescents, the nonmedical use of stimulant drug is either due to recreational reasons, or they use them as ‘smart drugs’ to improve performance in school. The nonmedical use of prescription stimulants is more common among college students than high school students. Studies have found that 4.1% to 10.8% of college students reported using prescription stimulants nonmedically during the past year.

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The face of stimulant addiction questions

Think you’ve got a personal problem with stimulants?

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You can contact your primary care physician or family doctor, a school counselor, your psychologist, or licensed psychiatrist for referral to adequate stimulant addiction treatment. OR Call our Helpline at 1-877-688-2356 to get free and confidential suggestions about rehab options.

If you have any additional questions, feel free to post them in the comments section at the bottom of the page. We try to answer all legitimate inquiries personally and promptly, or we will refer you to professionals who can help.

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Reference Sources: Pharmacy: Nonmedical Use of Prescription Stimulants: What college administrators, parents, and students need to know
NIDA: Prescription Drug Abuse
NCBI: Prevalence of Illicit Use and Abuse of Prescription Stimulants, Alcohol, and Other Drugs Among College Students: Relationship with Age at Initiation of Prescription Stimulants
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. I was prescribed medication such as Adderall in high school and into college. Had a positive effect on controlling symptoms. I knew that I didn’t want to make it known that I take medication, as this is where the friendly asks for one or two become common and can be stopped if just not made known.

    This medication does work. It did allow for more order in my life or disorder.

  2. This was a helpful infographic and post… A lot of people use stimulants in college. Adderall was very popular on my campus. It is a shame because you can do just as well with a good night’s rest and eating right. The placebo effect is very real with Adderall, although the drug helps it is often abused. I think most people who take Adderall would be just as productive if they did not use the drug. When you are used to taking something regularly to perform better, you can become addicted easily. Hopefully this does not become worse in the future.

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