Abuse of prescription medication for studying carries risk to students

As the end of the semester approaches, students are beginning to use various methods to study for finals including the infamous study drug, Adderall.

Adderall is an amphetamine and dextroamphetamine that affects chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control. It is used to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to Drugs.com.

“I think that it is one of the worst things that medicine is possibly doing to children today,” said Psychology Professor James Frazee. “It’s something we will look back upon and be embarrassed about.”

Full-time college students ages 18-22 are twice as likely to abuse Adderall as those of the same age not in college, according to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Students become addicted to Adderall because, when taking the drug, users experience an increased sense of motivation, focus, concentration and feelings of euphoria, according to the  Saint Jude Retreats website.

Leshea Munoz, 43, computer science major, is diagnosed with ADHD and is prescribed Adderall by a certified physician for her disorder. While she believes that students shouldn’t take it for recreational purposes, she does agree that it does help her stay focused.

“It helps me focus on one thing at a time, and allows me to finish the task that I started with,” Munoz said.

Frazee said the problem that students have when they use Adderall recreationally is that they tend to use it in the wrong way.

“They don’t know that what they are doing is using it to stay up and study all night, but their brain doesn’t function that way,” Frazee said. “In order to memorize and learn something so that you have an understanding of it and use it on, let’s say, an exam, is that you have to have learned it over a matter of time.”

The common side effects of Adderall abuse are nervousness, restlessness, headache, difficulty sleeping and difficulty staying awake, according to drugabuse.com

Michelle Barkley, head nurse at Cosumnes River College, said the problem is that students think  the side effects of this drug won’t affect them.

“A college age student between the ages 18-24 is (in) a challenging time developmentally,” Barkley said. “The challenge is the idea that they can stop just cold turkey. Well you might not be able to stop cold turkey.”

Mariah Peck, 26, radio production major, knows what addiction can do to someone and doesn’t recommend using Adderall recreationally.

“You can end up getting addicted to it,” Peck said. “I’ve seen it happen multiple times and I don’t think it’s a smart move.”

Frazee and Barkley both said there are other, healthier ways for students to prepare for finals.

“Go to bed earlier than you normally do; when you wake, before you do anything, put on some comfortable clothes and go on a brisk five to 10 minute walk,” Frazee said. “That is going to stimulate you and your central nervous system more and longer and more effectively and in a healthier manner than the use of recreational drugs.”