It used to be that when a student had a test or a paper coming up, he would start preparing for it weeks in advance. He would find motivation to study from within by wanting to do well in a class, and that motivation alone would be enough to help him stay concentrated and driven during his study sessions.
Flash forward to 2011, and there’s a new factor in students’ studying habits. It’s not what every student does, but many do, include Jared Gabay, a senior at Auburn University. What could this new factor be? Gabay and many other students use a “study drug” to give them a little extra study boost.
“I’m more driven,” said Gabay about how he feels when he takes Adderall, a prescription drug that was created to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. “I don’t focus on anything else [except my studies when I have taken an Adderall]. If I have a paper, that’s all I’m doing. No distractions, no socializing, just on with it.”
Many students on campuses across the nation are using Adderall and other ADHD medications, such as Ritalin, to help them study.
“It’s abused more than marijuana and easier to get,” said Alan DeSantis, a professor at the University of Kentucky. DeSantis has been tracking the use of these study drugs among students at his university and he found that 30 percent of the students have used a stimulant to help them study.
DeSantis also found that as student increase in the class level, their likelihood to abuse Adderall or Ritalin also increases. By the time students are a junior or senior, half of them have used a study drug. The use of these study drugs is even more prominent in Greek organizations: 80 percent of fraternity and sorority members have used a study drug to do better in a class.
Unfortunately, Adderall is not a harmless drug that merely helps students study. It is a schedule II drug, according to the federal government, and as such, it has “the highest abuse potential and dependence profile of all drugs that have medical utility.” This means that students are likely to become dependent on the drug and might have an even harder time studying if they quit taking Adderall than they had before they started using it.
Study drugs “might produce euphoria,” said Dr. Raymond Kotwicki, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Emory University‘s school of medicine in Atlanta. “They might temporarily make it easier… but in the long run, there are significant problems both in terms of thinking, mood problems, maybe even functionality.”
There are also physical side effects of using a prescription drug that has not been prescribed to you. Adderall can have side effects such as making you jittery and giving you headaches and stomach problems. It can even lead to psychosis, a serious mental disorder that can cause the suffered to lose contact with reality.
Sadly, many students don’t know about these dangerous side effects. Instead, they form their own excuses for using a drug that they think will only help them, but never harm them.
“I would see how the law is there [against taking drugs without a prescription],” said Gabay. “I consider it kind of an unwritten rule. It’s accepted…It’s okay if you’re just getting it for one thing. If you’re consistently using it and not prescribed that’s crossing the line.”
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