Stimulant abuse on the rise for students

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By Carina Sorrentino

In recent years the use of stimulant drugs on college campuses has reached peak frequencies, raising a variety of questions about the appeal, scenarios and consequences of their presence.

Among the most common in this category are Adderall, Ritalin and Vyvanse, all of which are prescribed to treat those with Attention Deficit Disorder.

These drugs stimulate the release of extra adrenaline and dopamine, chemicals which foster increased energy and focus in the brain.

There is a population of people who require these drugs in order to concentrate, but there are also growing numbers of those who will get ahold of them through peers even though it is not physically necessary.

What appeals to students is the instant gratification of taking a drug that will allow them to feel an extra boost of energy when they are studying, writing or taking exams.

One anonymous student remarked, “Sometimes I will take one just to get a paper done and not feel distracted.”

While these stimulants are often referred to as “study drugs,” getting more energy for school work is not the only time when students may abuse them. The recreational use for social reasons is a concern for the college campus community because of the negative side effects when used with other substances.

When mixed with alcohol, stimulant drugs mask the effects of feeling intoxicated which can increase the risk of overdrinking and alcohol poisoning. Some claim that taking it before a night out occasionally “will give [them] the energy to be more social.”

Especially during the spring term with day-long events such as Springfest, stimulants can be a quick fix to keep momentum up.

The Health Services office is allowed to administer drugs in the Adderall family by permission of the school’s psychiatrist. However, students do have to go through an evaluation process in order to determine if they are really in need.

In light of this trending behavior it is necessary for students to understand the risks that come along with abusing prescription drugs. Growing dependency can be identified with symptoms of insomnia, irritability, dizziness and shortness of breath. At such a crucial point in development, taking drugs that adversely affect the heart can lead to long term trauma such as heart attacks or arrhythmias.

Becoming reliant on the influx of chemicals that feel inherently beneficial is a direct way to acquire a dependency and therefore make it more difficult to focus without the use of drugs.

While college is an environment filled with stressors and the availability of drugs to experiment with, there is a point where students need to consider their long-term health.

One student admitted, “I usually get it from friends who I know are prescribed.”

Students who are prescribed stimulant drugs are sacrificing their own treatment by giving or selling them to their peers.

Furthermore, those who do take the medication correctly can be stigmatized because there is such a high population of those using it unnecessarily.

Overall long-term effects outweigh any immediate benefits, and it is necessary to understand that developing healthy academic and social habits is the best reward to attain from the college experience.

 

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