Potential Trends in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Drug Use on a College Campus: Wastewater Analysis of Amphetamine and Ritalinic Acid

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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) medication use is on the rise in the United States. The most widely used ADHD medications are the amphetamine-type compounds Adderall (mixed amphetamine salts) and Ritalin (methylphenidate). According to survey data ADHD medications are used as a study drug or "Smart Drug" by students without a prescription on college campuses. Survey data of non-prescribed drug use has limitations with accurate reporting and no empirical data of usage exists in the literature. This study looks for trends in the use of these drugs on a college campus among low-stress and high stress periods. The metabolites of these two drugs, amphetamine and ritalinic acid, are quantified in campus wastewater using solid phase extraction (SPE) and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Trends show a possible increase in amphetamine levels during periods of high stress such as midterms, the last week of classes and finals week over levels from the baseline low stress weeks such as the first week of classes. Both semesters from the 2011-12 academic year were studied and the highest increase over baseline (760%) occurred during finals week of the second semester. Ritalinic acid levels gradually climbed first semester but had no obvious periodic trend second semester.

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The Science of the Total Environment



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