Drug use in its traditional sense takes many forms. Unfortunately, there is a growing and concerning from of drug use that often goes unnoticed. Students at high schools and college campuses across the U.S. today are under overwhelming pressure to not just succeed, but overachieve. Advanced placement courses, early college studies, and academic-based internships are commonplace and to get through it all, many students turn to study drugs and it’s more than simply sneaking off to get high.
What is a study drug?
In many ways, study drugs can be more dangerous than their counterparts due to their ability to “blend in” with a day in the life of a typical high school or college student. “Study drugs” is a term describing prescription drugs used to boost concentration and stamina for the purpose of studying for exams or school projects. These drugs are commonly prescribed to treat Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and their associated issues relating to attention span, impulse control, and self-discipline.
Familiar brand names of these drugs include Ritalin, Adderall, and Focalin. Buying or using these drugs without a prescription, or selling your prescription to someone else, is illegal. However, drugs like these are effective in improving focus and endurance, and even enhance cognitive function and as such are a big hit with students under constant academic pressure.
Why are students using study drugs?
In today’s highly competitive academic world, some students believe their only avenues to success are directed by study drugs to help them cram for exams or complete extra work. For many of these students, peer pressure is very real and since “everyone else is doing it” they feel pressured to catch up or keep up with the crowd.
Some examples of this are the intense anxiety involving important semester projects or final exams, a large course load, or overwhelming amount of course material to learn. To meet those demands, students may look to other sources and that can lead to misuse of study drugs.
Additional pressure comes from other students wishing to buy prescriptions. Recent studies revealed that during finals time, roughly 30 percent of students with legitimate prescriptions have been asked to sell them to classmates. Aside from legal ramifications, selling your prescription can create a gap in your own treatment and initiate an entirely new problem.
Addictive properties and potential
The effects of study drugs may lead to addiction in the still-developing brain of teens and have long-term cognitive or behavioral effects. This may also lead to addiction in adult years and eventual abuse of the drug.
Some side effects of study drugs include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Increased blood pressure
- Dry mouth
- Suppressed or irregular appetite
- Diarrhea or constipation
The potential is very real for prescription stimulants to create physical and psychological dependence, especially among people who don’t medically need the drugs in the first place. Continued use, like most drugs, creates higher tolerance to obtain the same end result and withdrawal symptoms occur in much the same manner as “traditional” drugs.
A better plan
Students today have much healthier options to manage pressure than relying on harmful drugs. To start, being well-rested at all ages helps our brains function their best. Get regular and sound sleep every night.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and unable to handle pressure, talk to teachers, professors, and family members. It only makes it worse to keep troubles bottled up. In addition, stay organized. Know when that project deadline is coming or the big final exam is happening and plan accordingly. Use whatever tools work best to keep yourself on top of things; that alone is a great weight lifted.
Pull it all together by being disciplined with all aspects of your life. Make a plan to enjoy other activities along with academics to avoid the last-minute, boilermaker pressure. And stay realistic as well; don’t be so hard on yourself and set lofty goals that may at that time be a bit too much. Work hard but keep things manageable.
Protect your prescription
Many students with prescriptions for stimulants have them for a reason and are monitored by a doctor to gauge the drugs’ benefits. As mentioned, other students may approach you with request to buy your prescription for their own use. Never sell your prescription to someone else and here are some tips to help:
- Keep your medicines in a safe, private place; a location only you know.
- Don’t carry a full pill bottle or entire monthly supply around in your backpack.
- If someone asks to buy your medications, tell them you only have enough pills for yourself and not enough to share or sell.
- Tell would-be buyers you no longer take the medication or don’t have any to sell. This is a good approach for people who repeatedly ask to buy.
- Tell a potential buyer they may be in for a severe allergic reaction if they buy and use your medication, since the medication is specifically prescribed to you.
When all’s said and done, taking study drugs to meet overwhelming academic demands is cheating. You are resorting to an outside influence or source to meet a goal, instead of buckling down with discipline and doing the work with your own natural abilities.
Stay on track with the talents you have. Your success will be the better for it.