The increased competition for better grades, class rankings, and higher grade point averages is very stressful for the average student. Many students may decide to look for an “edge” – something that allows them to study more, cram before big exams, and work longer without rest. Some students achieve this edge by taking prescription stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall.
Photo: Adderall Extended-Release Pill
Although these drugs are used to treat ADHD, they are also abused by high school and college students in the pursuit of improving concentration and better grades. Alan Schwarz identified this problem in a recent article in the New York Times. He spoke to many high school students about their experiences with these “study drugs. Schwarz reported that some teenagers faked symptoms of ADHD in order to get a prescription for Adderall or Ritalin. He also reported that many of the students knew people who sold the pills and they said it was very easy to obtain the medication. Look over the chart below, which shows the reasons why students typically abused prescription stimulants.
College students are also abusing Adderall by using it to study for major exams, to complete projects, and to write research papers. A 2011 CNN article by Aaron Cooper describes how some students view taking Ritalin or Adderall as no worse than drinking an energy drink. These same students also believe that drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes are more dangerous behaviors than taking drugs that were not prescribed to them. Stimulant usage can lead to jitters, mood problems, psychosis, stomach problems, and the drugs can disconnect someone from reality. Stimulants can be addictive and they are dangerous when taken by someone who does not have a prescription. Not to mention the fact that it is ILLEGAL to possess or take drugs that are not prescribed to you.
Misconceptions about pharmaceutical drugs may lead students to think it is acceptable to take these medications, even though it’s not. Adderall and Ritalin are both Schedule II drugs and universities can expel students who abuse these drugs. These medications can become habit forming and when abused they will lead to an addiction that is no different than an addiction to methamphetamine or cocaine.
If you believe your child is abusing prescription stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin, please call us at Inspirations for Youth and Families at (888) 757-6237. We can help your child overcome his or her addiction.