Adderall abuse is notoriously common among college students eager for an academic boost, but a new study reveals just how much American millennials have normalized the prescription stimulant— they can't stop tweeting about using it.

Enough Twitter users in the United States publicly post about Adderall that researchers were able to track mentions of the ADHD medication in real time, identifying where and when it might be used more heavily.

The results of the six-month study, published last month in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, shouldn't be especially surprising to anyone who has recently attended a large American university.

Analyzing Adderall Abuse via Twitter

The researchers, led by health science professor Carl Hanson of Brigham Young University, analyzed all public tweets using the keyword "Adderall" from November 2011 to May 2012, minus those that were clearly pharmaceutical representatives.

Some of the tweets provided GPS location data, which allowed the researchers to group them into geographic clusters around large universities with student populations larger than 10,000.

During the six-month period, 132,099 unique Twitter users posted 213,633 public tweets that mentioned Adderall, an average of 930 per day.

Most of the tweets were sarcastic or joking, and while the analysis had no way to assess actual Adderall usage, or whether such usage might be legal or illegal, the prevalence of such casual mentions indicated at least a widespread familiarity with the psychostimulant.

"Adderall is the most commonly abused prescription stimulant among college students," said Hanson in a news release. "Our concern is that the more it becomes a social norm in online conversation, the higher risk there is of more people abusing it."

When Are Adderall Tweets Most Common?

Big surprise— tweets about Adderall spiked dramatically during university final exam periods, peaking on single days in mid-December (2,813) and late April (2,207).

The lowest rate of Adderall mentions came on Christmas (292), and May 27 (440), indicating perhaps that while vacations are the least likely time for students to use the drug, some users still wanted stimulants just to get through seeing family.

From week to week, Adderall tweets typically peaked on Wednesday and tapered off by the weekend, which makes sense since most college students are under the strongest academic pressure in the middle of the week.

"It's not like they're using it as a party drug on the weekend," said Hanson. "This data suggests that they're using it as a study aid. Many of the tweets even made a study reference."

Where Do the Adderall Tweets Come From?

Geographically, Adderall tweets were most common in the northeastern and southern United States. Vermont had the highest per capita rate per 100,000 students of all states (66.4), followed by Massachusetts (54.6), and Alabama (52.2). The lowest rates were in Southeastern Texas (1.4), Central Illinois (2.1), and Northern California (3.5).

The researchers suggest that the higher rate of Twitter Adderall mentions in the American Northeast and South is tied to Greek life, since fraternities and sororities are more rooted there than in the West Coast and have previously been linked to higher rates of illicit prescription drug use.

Since many of the tweets lacked GPS data, however, it's unclear how representative the ones with location data are of where the rest of the Adderall tweets came from. Also, the exclusion of college populations less than 10,000 leaves out smaller liberal arts colleges, where anecdotal evidence, at least, indicates that prescription drug abuse is widespread.

BYU researchers mapped the rate of Adderall tweets per 100,000 students by 150-mile college clusters in the United States.

What Are Twitter Users Actually Saying About Adderall?

The actual tweets noted by the BYU researchers provide some insight into how sampled students felt about Adderall:

"this whole no adderall for the past 3 days is really getting to me #StillDoingWork #DontKnoHowTho"

"Does anyone have adderall? #desperate"

"adderall + school = winning"

"wish i had adderall to get my room cleaned faster"

"Adderall stockpile for finals"

"We would all graduate with a 4.0 if adderall was sold over the counter"

"yay for adderall-induced optimism #givemeaprescription"

"Adderall, Coffee, Red Bull. Epic focus. Or a heart attack."

Almost a tenth of all the Adderall tweets also mentioned other psychoactive substances, like alcohol (4.8 percent), stimulants like coffee or Red Bull (4.7 percent), cocaine (0.9 percent), marijuana (0.8 percent), methamphetamines (0.4 percent), and other prescription drugs like Xanax and opioids (0.3 percent).

Tweets about co-ingestion are especially troubling, said study co-author Michael Barnes in the news release, since "morbidity and mortality risk increases when substances are combined."

Users also tweeted about Adderall side effects like sleep deprivation (5 percent), loss of appetite (2.6 percent), and obsessive-compulsive behavior (0.9 percent).

The researchers acknowledged that a fair amount of the tweets (4,275) quoted popular 2011 song lyrics like "College hoes love alcohol and popping Adderall," from "Deez Bitches Rollin'" by Juicy J of the rap group Three 6 Mafia, and "I've been up for 3 days... adderall and redbull," from JoJo's "Marvin's Room".

Still, such pervasive quotations "are pertinent because of the impact they may have on social norms," wrote the researchers.

Hanson's team hopes their findings can help promote safe and legal use of prescription drugs like Adderall among students, but they face an uphill battle.

In the past hour alone— a Wednesday evening in early May, which happens to coincide with the peak of finals week at many American colleges— 123 unique Twitter users tweeted messages with the keyword "Adderall."

Discounting repeats of the song lyrics mentioned above, as well as newer ones from Kreayshawn's "Gucci Gucci" and Danny Brown's "Adderall Admiral," here's a sampling:


— MATTHEW FREE (@MJFree35) May 1, 2013

Dedicating the completion of this paper to DayQuil, NyQuil, caffeine and adderall. Couldn't have done it without you guys!!!

— Jenny(@JSL092) May 1, 2013

every tweet since 2 pm has been adderall inspired.

— Young Papi Xanax (@FeauxBasquiat) May 1, 2013

9 Pages in 5 hours #adderall

— Eric rosenello (@hi_thanku) May 1, 2013

I need adderall more then life itself

— gabby guerrera (@gabbyguerr) May 1, 2013