Students Who Use ‘Study Drugs’: What Are the Dangers?

2019-02-20T21:43:57+00:00January 30th, 2019|

As the pressure on students to excel scholastically from kindergarten through grad school has dramatically risen over the past few decades, the abuse of study drugs has increased proportionately. Not only does this misuse of drugs meant to treat ADHD often lead to addiction, but the long-term effects on health and career performance are also adversely affected as well.

Commonly Abused Study Drugs

Although many parents and children think study drugs are new formulas developed in the middle to the late 20th century, they are often just new versions of amphetamines, which have been around since the 1800s. They’ve been used to improve productivity in the military, as diet pills by a number of generations, and as study aids for college kids since the ’50s. This drug family also includes methamphetamine, commonly called crystal meth, which remains one of the most destructive and abused drugs across America.

Study drugs, also coyly referred to as “smart pills”, are commonly prescribed to sufferers of ADHD and have mixed results. However, when they are illegally obtained and used without the supervision and monitoring of a physician, they can be extremely harmful and even fatal.

There are six prescription study drugs that are most abused by students.

  • Adderall (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine)
  • Concerta (methylphenidate)
  • Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine)
  • Focalin (dexmethylphenidate)
  • Ritalin (methylphenidate)
  • Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine)

Adderall abuse has been most prevalent over the past decade or so. In fact, in 2016, nearly 10 percent of college students admitted taking Adderall without a doctor’s prescription. Additionally, roughly 4 percent of college students polled during that year reported regularly taking other brands of amphetamines without the benefit of a prescription. Ritalin is another favorite study drug as well as Dexedrine, which has been used as a weight loss aid and study support drug since the 50;s and 60’s. Modafinil, a common prescription to curb narcolepsy, is also used to increase energy and stave off mental fatigue.

students and study drugs

Serious Threats of Study Drug Abuse

While addiction is the greatest risk of taking study drugs, there’s a long list of other side effects that vary. Side effects range in intensity and can cause severe health problems. This is especially true if the study drugs are used over extended time periods.

Frequent side effects of ADHD medication abuse include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Appetite loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Confusion
  • Delusions
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Sleep problems

Reasons Why Study Drug Abuse is so Prevalent

As mentioned earlier, the pressure on students to achieve and excel has increased exponentially over the past few decades. What has remained constant is the desire of students to please parents, teachers, and mentors. When curriculums become more difficult, students who have been average achievers throughout elementary and middle school often find themselves struggling to keep up. Rather than fall behind and disappoint themselves as well as adults who are cheering them on, many students get study drugs from friends to keep them afloat.

Apparently, all it takes is one or two kids to report how “smart pills” helped them study more effectively. They’ll brag of how it improved their focus, enabled them to stay up all night, and learn more in shorter periods of time to entice other students to take the drugs.

However, while decades of study indicate that ADHD medications help children who are professionally and correctly diagnosed with the disorder successfully complete more assignments and have fewer behavior issues, no other benefits are apparent. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, no research has concluded the ADHD prescription meds have any positive influences on academic accomplishment, make learning easier, or improve memory skills.

ADHD medications can make people who don’t have ADHD feel energetic and focused. However, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, research isn’t conclusive about whether the drugs help anyone learn faster or retain more information. When people’s energy levels spike and their mood is upbeat and positive, they believe the drugs are increasing their learning abilities. But in reality, they are merely feeling positive and euphoric, which are reasons enough to keep the abuse going.

Proclivity for Addiction

Because ADHD drugs are prescribed mainly to children, the misunderstanding is that they are not addictive. Or maybe they’re less addictive than other amphetamines. However, these medications are on the DEA’s (Drug Enforcement Administration) classified list of Schedule II controlled substances. That inclusion means that although they are approved for medical applications, the drugs are highly likely to be abused. Because of this, they can frequently lead to addiction, where facilities like rehab Huntington Beach can be helpful.

Even prescribed stimulants can lead to serious addiction leading to death caused by overdose. If you suspect someone is developing a dependence on amphetamines, contact a medical professional. Please attempt to help the person recover in one of many Orange County sober living homes.

If you or a loved one needs help, call us at 949-625-4019.