In colleges abuse of ritalin, or any of the newer AD/HD medications within the similar family of stimulants, is quite common. The belief is that it will assist those without AD/HD when studying, or in completion of major projects/homework.

Have any studies been done as to rather use of these drugs by individuals without AD/HD actually increases ability to study and/or complete assignments? This is to say is the ability to retain knowledge and complete tasks increased when taking ritalin, or similar medications, for those without AD/HD.

I'm looking only at short term affects, not any long term detrimental affects that may come from abuse.

1 Answer 1


Bagot, K. S. and Kaminer, Y. (2014), Efficacy of stimulants for cognitive enhancement in non-attention deficit hyperactivity disorder youth: a systematic review. Addiction, 109: 547–557. doi:10.1111/add.12460

Briefly glanced at this study today

Short answer is: Generally yes, most youth studied showed an increase in performance in measured tasks during this study.

Longer answer: This is a review of current literature, not an individual study. It only reviewed 14 studies most of which had fairly small population sizes. Many of the studies focused on different medications/dosages and assessed performance in different ways. There's no easy way to assess total mental "improvement" with these medications; you have to have certain tasks that you can quantify. So while these medications may help in some areas (reaction time, logical reasoning, attention based tasks) they might not provide any benefit in others (critical thinking, articulating thoughts, imagination).

So, to me, it depends on the person and the task, not just medication vs no medication.

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