You wake up hungover from trivia at the bar last night. F**K, is today Thursday? You have an exam at 2:00 pm, two meetings, spinning class, a paper due tomorrow and a frat party tonight. You could skip half of those activities but there’s pressure to do it all: get good grades, socialize and look good doing it. How do you cope without going insane?
You reach for your roommate’s study drugs.
What are they?
Study drugs are prescription drugs that increase mental focus and productivity. They are often used by students to study or complete work. These drugs are prescribed to treat Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). But…they also come in very handy when you need a little help staying hyper-focused and attentive during midterms week. This chart wonderfully captures the essence of each of your study drug options:
Sounds pretty good…tell me more.
When you take study drugs, it more or less makes you feel like an enhanced version of yourself. Your energy levels are elevated, your motivation sky rockets and you enthusiastically take on tasks that would normally seem mundane (like…studying).
That laser-focused feeling makes study drugs seem perfect for college students, especially in times when staying alert, at all hours of the night, is essential. However, college students have begun to take the pills when it comes to the party scene as well.
One college student said,
“It’s a stimulant or an upper. The combination with alcohol will push you to things you might not do sober. It gives you the adrenaline rush that people seek out on a partying scene.”
Another college student described,
“I used it [Adderall] so I would be able to stay up all night on New Years.”
That little kick that study drugs give you is ideal for students looking for a little assistance before a night out. It amps up your mood, and gives you an extra push to stay up later than you probably should.
One of the effects of many study drugs is appetite suppression, which many would argue is a good thing. After taking one of these pills, you will quickly notice that any hunger you may have had, has completely diminished. Even the thought of food is unappealing. While this may sound ideal, mistreating study drugs as a way to lose weight can lead to much more serious problems, like eating disorders.
So, how can I get them?
Prescriptions for study drugs have more than tripled since they first came into existence. This doesn’t even take into consideration the number of people using these types of drugs who don’t have a prescription. So, as you can imagine, getting your hands on these drugs isn’t very hard to do.
The easiest way college students get a hold of study drugs is usually through a friend who already has a prescription. BUT, it has become increasingly easier for students to get a prescription on their own. Just go see your doctor. Many tests administered to determine ADHD are often checklists and symptoms can be easily faked.
Too good to be true?
Basically, if there weren’t consequences, every college student in the world would be using study drugs as a sugar replacement for their morning coffee. But the fact of the matter is that there are consequences, and it’s important to keep these in mind.
The short-term effects of using study drugs include loss of appetite, headaches, depression and nervousness. One of the biggest problems college students find with study drug use is trouble sleeping. Overuse can even lead to insomnia.
Over the past 10 years, visits to the ER related to study drugs being used for recreational purposes, has increased tremendously. Most times these visits were due to an alcohol -Adderall mixture, resulting in problems like nausea, heart palpitations, convulsions and the like.
Extended use may result in long-term physical and psychological dependence. Users will wake up feeling so miserable, that the only way they can even get themselves out of bed is by popping another pill. Not good.
But you already know all of this. You’ve probably seen your friends buying study drugs, if you haven’t done so yourself. You’ve probably been offered Adderall by your boyfriend’s best friend before going out. The truth behind study drugs is that college students are put under a tremendous amount of pressure. Pressure from our parents, our friends and our professors.
Schools have adapted a culture of competitiveness that mirrors the high school football rivalry from Friday Night Lights. We compete for grades, parties, girlfriends, fashion and just about everything. We are often on the brink of having a mental breakdown, crawling into bed and abandoning any hope of making it anywhere in life.
Instead, we reach for the study drugs.
Featured image source: archive.dailycal.org
Melanie Mason is a student at Connecticut College studying Environmental Studies and U.S. Politics. In her free time she enjoys yoga, country music and margaritas.