Students and Stimulants

30 Percent Of College Students Use Non-Medical Stimulants

Along with the numerous benefits of gaining a higher education comes an influx of responsibilities. Often, a student can be overrun by homework, studying, and extracurricular activities, as there simply is not enough time to complete all these tasks. Therefore, according to a CNN report, more students are turning toward stimulants in order to stay awake this year.

A new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which reviewed data from the annual Natural Survey on Drug Use and Health, discovered that many college students are beginning to experiment with stimulant medications such as Ritalin and Adderall. A stimulant is defined as any substance that raises levels of physiological or nervous activity in the body.

Typically, these drugs are used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Narcolepsy, and other disorders that affect one’s attention span. However, students often misuse the drug to gain that same increased focus.

Suanne Schaad, Substance Awareness Coordinator at the University, said that the use of stimulant drugs only provides temporary effects, and the aftermath may not be beneficial.

“Roughly 30 percent of college students abuse stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin. There are certainly risks associated with using these medications without a prescription,” said Schaad. “It puts us at risk for addiction and if we have an underlying heart condition it may pose a medical dilemma. The “crash” after using these types of drugs are difficult for folks to recover from. Users will report not being able to fall asleep or having their sleep patterns ‘out of wack’ for many days after use.”

As Schaad explains, many students may become reliant on the drug to function normally; the drug may alter the student’s pattern of living and he/she may not be able to reverse these effects.

Schaad also said that stimulant use is a vicious cycle, as students become dependent on the drug to complete tasks.

“Research tells us that the students  who tend to use these types of drugs are students who have below a ‘B’ average and find time management and the pressures of school too overwhelming,” said Schaad. “Students have the perception that they can’t do it without the ‘help’ of the stimulant, and this perception is what leads to continued use. Students seem to think it is a safe drug to use, but aren’t aware of some of the dangers associated with it.”

Jeremy Colon, a sophomore criminal justice student, said that today’s students are simply a product of their generation, and that may contribute to the rise in stimulant use.

“I believe more college students are using stimulants to complete work because we come from a generation where we are used to everything being instant,” said Colon. “We never had to send letters by mail, we had email. We have the internet that our parents didn’t necessarily have access to. Basically, we are used to finding the speediest and most convenient route in order to get the end result. This includes taking stimulants instead of sitting down, turning off the phone and distractions around us, and getting down to business.”

Furthermore, Moon Ho Kim, a sophomore business student, said that students are distracted from their schoolwork by things such as friends, phones, and partying, that they often need stimulants to catch up on their work.

“If people prioritize and manage time more efficiently , then it shouldn’t be as bad of an issue,” said Kim.

Colon said that there is little that can be done to prevent this issue, as students will always find a way to obtain what they want.

“Our university’s police force is constantly working towards keeping our campus substance-free, but when there’s a will there’s a way,” said Colon. Students will continue to find a way to get their hands on these addictive stimulants in order to get work done, consequently not grasping the concepts being taught but simply letting the substance do the work for them.”

Colon said that it is imperative for students to realize that they can get work done without the drug, or else they will always depend on it.

“Some years, this office hosts an ‘Adderall Awareness Day’ around exam time to raise awareness of this drug,” said Schaad. “There is also the annual De Stress fest during exams to help students deal with stress more effectively. I provide presentations to classes, teams, organizations that also address substance use, including stimulant use.”

Schaad also urged any students facing a drug abuse issue to visit the Office of Substance Awareness in the Health Center to talk to a counselor, as the service is free and confidential.