Using ADD meds to study is a big risk

Adderall, Ritalin, finals… oh my!

With finals just around the corner, students are always looking for a competitive edge when it comes to studying and improving their grades. Unfortunately, students sometimes find what they think is an advantage in the wrong places.

Adderall, Ritalin and other similar medicines are prescribed to people who suffer from ADD and ADHD. In recent decades, there has been an increase in the abuse of these drugs.

Students are using them as a way to enhance their studying, improve grades or deal with overloaded schedules. This is especially true when exam time rolls around.

Among college students, there is very little stigma, if any, associated with taking these drugs to enhance studies.

So much focus is put on grades, GPAs and test scores that students do whatever they can to gain an edge in this competitive environment, and right now that edge is coming from the use and abuse of prescription meds.

Prescription amphetamines and methylphenidates cause health problems when misused. Photo by Michael Davis

Joan Ledbetter, academic adviser and coordinator on the Floyd campus, said, “Personally, I believe students will take drugs like Adderall just like they drink the mega-caffeinated energy drinks to get what they think is an edge.”

While some students are turning to drugs to enhance their studies, others are not. Sarah Willingham, general studies major on the Floyd campus, said, “I don’t feel that the benefits are worth the risk associated with taking these meds to study.” Colby Helms, middle grades education major on the Floyd campus, agreed, saying, “It’s not worth taking drugs to study; I get what I get on my own.”

With the growth in use of these medicines by students, comes one major question-where are they getting them? The answer is from the students who already have prescriptions. Often the person prescribed will not finish a month’s prescription before the new one is filled and therefore has leftovers.

It is as simple as supply and demand. A student who has leftover medicine sees the demand and becomes the supplier.

A student can get a pill for about $3 to $5 dollars, depending on the dosage and whether or not it is extended release.

These prices can jump to around $20 a pill during exam times. Some providers even offer a buy two and get the third pill discounted incentive.

While students see drugs like Adderall for their advantages, they can actually cause serious health problem. According to WebMD.com, drugs like Ritalin and Adderall can have negative side effects and are possibly habit forming.

Several side effects associated with these drugs are loss of appetite, stomach pain, headaches, nervousness, dry mouth and blurred vision.

Misuse or abuse of amphetamine (Adderall) or methylphenidate (Ritalin) can lead to serious heart and blood pressure problems and can be fatal.

“In the end, the best things students can do are study, get a good night sleep and eat a good meal before the test,” said Ledbetter.