ADHD Medication Abuse Is Hitting Alarming Levels Among College Students

By Courtney Flannery 2014-05-05 12:19:32
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I have been pretty fortunate in my life to be incredibly driven to do even the most boring stuff on time. I remember in college passing my friends who looked like they stepped out of an episode of The Walking Dead from pulling all nighters because of their crappy time management skills. I can safely say I never stayed up all night to study or finish a project, but the number of those who do are growing and growing. Worse, some aren't doing it the natural way either. Many students turn to medications to help give them focus and help them get work done. A portion have conditions that require the drugs, but what should be done about those who use the substances without needing them to boost their scores?

According to Forbes , a recent study published looked at the question of whether using ADHD medication without a prescription should be considered cheating. The research was presented at a recent pediatric society meeting just a couple days ago. About 20% of Ivy Leaguers, that's right-the folks who are already ridiculously smart enough to get into these prestigious schools, confessed to abusing prescription drugs while studying. A whopping one-third of those kids didn't see a problem with doing it, either. The way I see it, using these medications is cheating because you're not using your own willpower to learn the stuff and giving yourself a competitive edge, just like steroids are a no-no for college athletes.

Ritalin and Adderall are commonly prescribed to treat hyperactivity. They really help kids that just can't sit still enough or even focus enough to do simple tasks. My little brother who has Asperger's Syndrome and ADHD benefited greatly as he grew up from low doses of Ritalin that helped him focus enough to learn to speak and ultimately become an honors college graduate. When you don't actually need these medicines though, it can sharpen your focus to extreme levels and make your stamina much greater. They're basically stimulants for people who don't need them and help calm people who need the medicine.

The data was compiled back in 2012 by anonymously asking 616 students about their prescription drug abuse. About 24% of those surveyed admitted to using the pills at least eight times. College juniors reported the highest use, and the drugs were popped most often during paper writing or study time. I know junior year is pretty stressful for a lot of kids, but that number seems alarmingly high to me. Greek and sport affiliated students were, not surprisingly, more likely to use the stimulants. It's likely being in a group-think environment may normalize the behavior.

There are some pretty significant dangers to taking medication that isn't prescribed to you. At a less serious level, they can cause withdrawal or anxiety when you come off the medication or don't take it for awhile. In more severe instances, it can create heart problems or make underlying ones obvious. Basically, you're at risk at killing yourself over a better grade. Many college drug and alcohol programs required before starting classes completely skip over prescription drug use. This data makes it clear that's a poor decision.

I know school is stressful, and sometimes you can feel overwhelmed, but there are better options than taking medicine not intended for you. See a counselor, talk to your parents and try to develop better time management skills. Skip out on a party and actually study your material, or meet with a professor if you're just not getting it. I made it four years without touching a single prescription pill not intended for me, and I know that other people can do it, too.
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