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The Myth of "Study Drugs": The Problem of Prescription Stimulant Misuse

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Airs: September 26, 2013
Sponsor(s): MCTFT, The Partnership at

We hear lots about performance-enhancing drugs in sports but how much have you ever heard about drugs some people think can enhance academic performance? Your kids probably know about them and what they think could be dangerous.

The medications are designed to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, known as ADHD, but many teens and young adults think of them as "study drugs." The misuse of these prescription stimulants is part of the bigger problem of prescription drug abuse and the misconception that pills – even if they belong to someone else -- must be safe because a doctor prescribed them.

During the hour-long program, The Myth of "Study Drugs": The Problem of Prescription Stimulant Misuse, we'll hear about the scope of this problem and how it spreads from middle school, to high school, to college. Learn what the research shows about the young people who use these pills, their likelihood to participate in similar risky behaviors, and other consequences. One girl and her family will share their story about how taking pills in order to do better in school changed their lives forever.

This program is produced with The Partnership at

Key Concepts:

  • Hear who is using so-called "study drugs"
  • Find out about the dangers of prescription stimulant misuse and diversion
  • Learn about what the research says about these drugs and the potential for other risky behaviors

Content Providers:

Amelia M. Arria, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Behavioral and Community Health and the Director of the Center on Young Adult Health and Development at the University of Maryland School of Public Health

Amelia Arria is the Principal Investigator on the College Life Study, a ten-year longitudinal prospective study of college students. She has conducted research studies on adolescent and young adult health risk behaviors, including nonmedical use of prescription drugs and their relationship to academic performance and other forms of substance use. She is currently involved in several efforts to translate research findings for parents and policy makers.

Arria received a B.S. in Human Development from Cornell University, a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health, and completed postdoctoral training at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.


Marc J. Fishman, M.D., Addiction Psychiatrist, Faculty, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Marc Fishman, M.D. is the medical director of Maryland Treatment Centers, a regional behavioral healthcare provider, which offers programs for residential and outpatients.

His academic work has focused on models of care and treatment outcomes for addictions in youth, in particular opioid dependence.

Fishman is the immediate Past President of the Maryland Society of Addiction Medicine.


Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership at

Steve Pasierb leads the nation's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to evidence-based solutions to adolescent substance use disorders, The Partnership at

In addition to its renowned programs in prevention, intervention and in support of treatment including The Medicine Abuse Project, The Partnership recently completed the acquisition of Join Together from Boston University, the acquisition of The Meth Project Foundation and became the program lead on the national teen drug use prevention campaign Above The Influence.

A member of the honor society of Phi Kappa Phi, Mr. Pasierb holds a Master of Education degree with honors in communications media and a Bachelor of Science in criminology.

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