Why You Should Think Twice Before Taking a Study Drug

College student asleep at an open book while studying

I’m a recent college graduate and at the ripe old age of 22, hearing about the rise of the ‘study drugs’ does not surprise me at all. Especially around exam time when most college students are remembering that they don’t just go to school to party and make friends, but to actually pass those 19 credits that they signed up for at the beginning of the year. So, they venture to the 24/7 library that they just are now discovering, wedge their way into one of the only spots left in the building, set out their energy drink and notecards and camp out for hours or maybe even days. Oh and forget about sleeping until finals are over because there is no time for that; just pop a few of those ADHD medications such as Adderall, Ritalin or Vyvanse and you will be good to go for the next three days straight. Right? Wrong.

According to a news report on CNN, prescription ADHD medications are becoming increasingly popular for overworked and overscheduled college students — who haven’t been diagnosed with ADHD — as they give them the ability and stamina to work through the night without sleeping.

According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, drugs, substances and certain chemicals fall under five different schedules, or categories,” explains Frank LoVecchio, D.O., medical toxicologist for the Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Referral Center. “The DEA classifies Adderall as a Schedule II drug, which is defined as drugs with high potential for abuse — potentially leading to sever psychological or physical dependence.

Although it may seem like a great idea in order to cram all of that information into your brain on such a short period of time, the short-term consequences can be just enough for you to think twice before taking such measures. Some include; sleep difficulties, restlessness, headaches, irritability and depressed feeling. Other side effects include loss of appetite and nervousness. Even worse, the long term effects can cause routine users to feel that they cannot function optimally without the drugs — basically they are addictive.

The structure and action of Adderall resembles that of recreational drugs such as methamphetamine (also known as crystal meth) and MDMA (also known as ecstasy),” said LoVecchio. “Treatment of adult ADHD with stimulants has been associated with improvement in a number of daily living skills such as decreasing driving errors. Interestingly one study found that these stimulants have the exact opposite effects on patients without ADHD, specifically increased driving errors.

So before giving praise to that little pill that got you into the wee hours of the morning and deep into that 25-page paper, think about the side effects short term and long term. And next time, maybe just try a little harder not to procrastinate!

If you have a concern about your alcohol or other drug use, or for a loved one, please contact The Villa: Chemical Dependency Program staff at (480) 448-7650. Or visit Banner Behavioral Health Hospital for more information.

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