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Prominence of “study drug” use on college campuses is rising

The fall semester is in full swing as many students in the Jacksonville area begin to prepare for midterms and other major academic obligations. Students may feel even more stress as the semester continues into the winter months, bringing final papers, projects and exams into the picture.

As the pressure of balancing academics, extracurricular activities and social obligations accumulates, students often feel the need to seek additional help. While many turn to study groups, tutors and their professors’ office hours, others choose to use un-prescribed medicinal solutions.

These prescription stimulants often include drugs such as Adderall, Dexedrine, Concerta and Ritalin which treat for narcolepsy and ADHD. Students without a prescription use these medications as “study drugs” to get through their academic workload.

Health and safety risks of study drugs

Approximately 20 percent of college students across multiple studies report using prescription stimulants from others as study enhancements. Many of these students seek the medications from others on campus who actually have a prescription to treat ADHD, narcolepsy or other medical needs.

More than 60 percent of students with ADHD reported selling or otherwise providing their prescription medications to other students for recreational use. Students often do not realize the extent of their actions when giving their medications to others or ingesting prescriptions stimulants without a doctor’s order.

Study drugs can have both short and long-term effects on a person’s body as they don’t follow medical advice and dosages. The short-term effects are essentially the appeal of the medications because they include the release of dopamine and norepinephrine, providing high levels of alertness, energy and attentiveness.

Students often fail to look beyond these immediate effects to understand what they actually mean. The rush of energy results in heightened blood pressure and heart rate, quickened breathing, decreased blood flow and increased blood sugar. Long-term misuse of these stimulants can lead to major complications such as an irregular heartbeat, heart failure, seizures and – of course – further drug abuse and dependency.

Legal ramifications of study drugs

The purchase and sale of study drugs is more than a campus infraction. State law classifies Adderall and Ritalin as Schedule II drugs with punishments for possession and intent to sell. Federal law may also apply to a case involving the purchase and sale of narcotics in Florida, depending on the case.

It may seem advantageous to get a quick boost before exams, but the consequences can last much longer than the energy rush. Consider the major medical and legal consequences of purchasing or selling prescription stimulants for study or other recreational purposes.

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Thomas G. Fallis, P.A.
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