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Finals Week Brings Risk of Study Drug Abuse among Students


For many students, the approach of summer is a welcome arrival—a chance to loosen up, enjoy the sun and take a break from class. However, the weeks leading up to summer can be some of the most stressful periods for students—especially those striving to make good grades.

The Rise of Study Drugs

The prevalence of study drugs is becoming well-known on college campuses, especially around the times of finals. In fact, CNN recently released a report examining the frequent use of the drug at universities across the country; what’s important to note is that these individuals are not getting the prescription drugs from pharmacies or have not even struggled with ADHD.

CNN states, “Around this time of year, you’re more likely to find college students in the library cramming for final exams than out partying. In an environment where the workload is endless and there’s always more to be done, a quick fix to help buckle down and power through becomes very tempting…Prescription ADHD medications like Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse are becoming increasingly popular for overworked and overscheduled college students – who haven’t been diagnosed with ADHD.”

What’s especially concerning is that many smart students fail to recognize the dangers of these drugs—which are particularly apparent if used frequently or overused. Some are even going as far as to legitimize the use of the drug—which may pinpoint deeper signs of denial of a substance abuse problem.

A recent article from TIME observes that Ivy League students are not only embracing the use of study drugs, but are even going as far to say that the use is not a form of cheating. The report also notes that one in five Ivy League students has used stimulants while studying. While the latter argument remains debatable, it remains clear that all students should stay aware of the addiction and health risks these drugs can pose.

Although these drugs have been found to effectively treat ADHD, many students are taking them to increase mental performance—making it easier to cram in study sessions, complete projects and gain higher grades on important exams. Still students remain mostly unaware of the addiction risks these medications present, let alone the immediate health hazards they can deliver including withdrawal, mood swings or suicidal behaviors. If followed by subsequent partying—such as drinking—the combination of alcohol and stimulants can pose even greater immediate health threats.

Study Drugs Attracting a Younger Crowd

Although the study mentioned in the TIME article shows the high use of study drugs on college campuses, other reports show that American youth may be turning to these controlled substances at a much younger age. In addition to alcohol and marijuana abuse, high school students are reported to be turning to stimulants as part of a “new normal” way of life according to one recent article from the San Jose Mercury News.

With individuals gaining access to and experimenting with ADHD medications in high school, there is a greater risk that more individuals will become addicted to such substances and more likely to carry on the behavior to college. As such, raising awareness of this widespread issue and expanding prevention efforts is critical.

The Risk of Addiction

Although some students will note that they only use study drugs during finals week or other short-term period of the school calendar, it is important to note that abuse of these medications can create dependency. Since these controlled substances are designed to change the brain chemistry, those who use stimulants are at high risk of developing a need to use the drugs to function in everyday life.

As a result, many students who have become used to abusing ADHD medications may find themselves entering summer break with a new addiction.

Parents of high school students should take an active role in their child’s life to make sure that they are discouraging use of the drugs and ensuring that teens are well-rested during finals week. Adults who abuse these stimulants are urged to become familiar with the health risks and discuss any potential ADHD concerns with a doctor.

If you find that you or a loved one is struggling with stimulant abuse or any other drug or alcohol dependency, it is important to know that there are many options for help. Chapters Capistrano offers a comfortable respite for addiction recovery, complete with on-site detox and flexible treatment options. Call 949-371-4198 today to learn how our professional team can assist you in recovery.