BYU Twitter analysis shows Adderall mentions peak during finals

Posted at 2:54 PM, May 02, 2013

It’s not a new trend – college students using the ADHD medication Adderall to study or take exams.

But now Adderall use can be tracked on Twitter. A group of BYU health science and computer science students did a six month study analyzing Adderall on Twitter. They discovered two key findings: first, Adderall is mentioned most heavily among students in the northeast and south regions of the U.S.  And second, Tweets about Adderall peak sharply during final exam periods.

“Our concern is that the more it becomes a social norm in online conversation, the higher risk there is of more people abusing it,” said Carl Hanson, a professor of health science at BYU.

Researchers monitored all public Twitter mentions of Adderall between November 2011 and May 2012. They removed tweets from users that appeared they were promoting Adderall.

Adderall was mentioned an average of 930 times a day. It also spiked sharply during finals periods, with 2,813 tweets on December 13, and 2,207 tweets on April 30.

BYU students also found that Adderall tweets peaked during the week and declined on weekends. That’s consistent with previous research that shows that students use the drug during times of academic stress.

Vermont had the highest Adderall tweet rate, while Northern Utah had one of the lowest rates. Researchers say they hope the study leads to more promotion of the safe and legal use of Adderall and other substances on campus. The study was published in the current issue of the Journal of Medical Internet Research.