Aims: To determine where residence students from a South African tertiary institution get methylphenidate for both appropriate and non-medical use, where they think they could get it and how easy they think it is to acquire.
Design: A quantitative cross-sectional study that made use of a structured questionnaire.
Setting: A South African tertiary institution.
Participants: Residence students from ten randomly selected residences (N=328; response rate=13.7%).
Measurements: Self-reports of experience and perceptions relating to sources of methylphenidate.
Findings: The mean age of the participants was 20.1 years and 56.4% of the sample was female. Although all the appropriate users have obtained methylphenidate legally at least once, they have also obtained it illegally from their friends (30.8%) and family (7.7%). The most common source for non-medical users was their friends (77.3%). Non-medical users also acquired methylphenidate using fabricated prescriptions (10.7%) and by buying it from pharmacies without a prescription (14.3%). Users and non-users had similar perceptions of where they thought they could get methylphenidate, except that users were more likely to think they can get it from friends (67.1% vs. 46.7%).
Conclusions: The current study presents novel evidence for methylphenidate diversion by university students in South Africa. Considering the abuse potential of methylphenidate, the diversion should be further explored and programmes developed to improve the legal control of methylphenidate