Tracking Adderall via Twitter

Adderall is a drug that is very much abused by our peers. It is the quintessential study item for some of us. That’s why this study, from NCBI, tracked how much college students all across the nation were talking about it; and then compiled it in this colorful and a bit horrifying map.

Adderall - the study and finals drug. (photo by hipsxxhearts)

Adderall – the study and finals drug. (photo by hipsxxhearts)

The study, as quoted from here, follows this experimental form:

Adderall is the most commonly abused prescription stimulant among college students. Social media provides a real-time avenue for monitoring public health, specifically for this population.
This study explores discussion of Adderall on Twitter to identify variations in volume around college exam periods, differences across sets of colleges and universities, and commonly mentioned side effects and co-ingested substances.
Public-facing Twitter status messages containing the term “Adderall” were monitored from November 2011 to May 2012. Tweets were examined for mention of side effects and other commonly abused substances. Tweets from likely students containing GPS data were identified with clusters of nearby colleges and universities for regional comparison.

213,633 tweets from 132,099 unique user accounts mentioned “Adderall.” The number of Adderall tweets peaked during traditional college and university final exam periods. Rates of Adderall tweeters were highest among college and university clusters in the northeast and south regions of the United States. 27,473 (12.9%) mentioned an alternative motive (eg, study aid) in the same tweet. The most common substances mentioned with Adderall were alcohol (4.8%) and stimulants (4.7%), and the most common side effects were sleep deprivation (5.0%) and loss of appetite (2.6%).

Twitter posts confirm the use of Adderall as a study aid among college students. Adderall discussions through social media such as Twitter may contribute to normative behavior regarding its abuse.

It’s an odd study because we aren’t exactly sure who was just talking about Adderall and who was actually using it.. I’m not sure if there are any songs in ode to Adderall but there might be, and someone might have just quoted a lyric that was stuck in their head or really, anything else.

The study showed that Adderall was not used recreationally, but mainly during final exam week and midweek- meaning kids would use it as a study aid. The study monitored the trend for six months, and even still – showed that the trend was very one sided in regards to the USA.

Nonetheless it is astonishing how concentrated the Twitter trends are on the East coast. Makes me wonder what’s going on on the West coast that students aren’t really interested in using the drug. Is it just more accessible where we are? Or is it something else? Is the East coast more reliant on drugs to make good grades in school? All of these questions rely on social sciences to answer.

To see the map I’m talking about, click here.

Of course they have no proof that any of these kids actually took the drug, so nothing can be done about that – but they can speculate.

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