Preventing College Students from Using Study Drugs

Posted on September 29th, 2014

Both the United States and United Kingdom have reported an increase in the number of college students who use prescriptions like Ritalin and Adderall to help them focus when studying taking tests. Many of these students don’t have a prescription and can easily obtaining them from friends or family members. Professors across college campuses are learning more about these “study drugs” and are trying to counter this drug revolution.

As Easy as ABC

One reason so many students are using these performance-enhancing drugs is because they can. Some of these students who grew up with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) already have prescriptions for ADHD drugs. Others can usually find a family member or friend who can get them. Surveys reveal that some students fake the severity of their symptoms in order to get more medication.

In July 2013 it was reported that over one third of American college students had used Adderall or Ritalin, and a survey of Cambridge University students found that nearly 10 percent had used these ADHD drugs to enhance their academic performance.

Pressure to Succeed

The rise in the number of students abusing ADHD drugs is partly due to pressure to perform. With the recent recession and wave of unemployment across the nation, some college students are feeling a little extra pressure to get the highest grades possible. With easier accessibility to performance-enhancing drugs, these students may feel they should use every opportunity possible to excel.

In the U.K., the British Psychological Society is beginning a more intense investigation on the use of ADHD drugs for use in better academic performance. How much can scores improve by using these drugs? The Academy of Medical Sciences says that if the drugs help the memory improve by even 10 percent a student could be propelled into a whole different degree class.

Challenging Academics

School administrators are just starting to address this trend. In New York, Senator Chuck Schumer is trying to rally schools to enact policies that would prevent students from being able to obtain the medication without a prescription. Until schools come to a consensus on how to halt this activity, students may continue using these methods to enhance their grades, all the while believing that it is fair and safe. But using any medication without a prescription can be risky.

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