One thing many college students are known for is procrastination. Many students wait until the very last minute to do homework or study for an exam and often cram until the very wee hours of the morning to ensure themselves that they know everything possible. Some students find it helpful to drink a cup of coffee or a Red Bull to make sure they can stay up and absorb all of the information they need to or finish their papers. However, some students are turning to a dangerous alternative and are starting to rely on what are now being called ‘academic steroids’ or ‘study drugs’ to get their work done.
The most common study drugs being used by students today are Adderall and Ritalin. Both of these drugs are commonly prescribed for people who suffer from ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Both of the drugs are orally ingested and allow people with these disorders to focus better on schoolwork by improving their concentration.
Many students take these drugs that do not have ADD or ADHD because they help them focus on homework and allow them to get their work done in a timely manner. Kelsey, a second-year student who wished to have her name changed, says that she takes Adderall around two or three times a month on average.
“I tend to procrastinate and when I have a lot of work to do I can stay up for days at a time, and it really helps me focus and get all my work done,” Kelsey said. “If I didn’t take it, I would definitely do worse in school.”
Although these ‘academic steroids’ or ‘study drugs’ may be helpful to some students, they come with a risk of serious side effects. Adderall, one of the most popular of the study drugs, was originally marketed as a diet drug in the 1960s because of how well it suppresses appetite.
Weight loss is one of the most common side effects of someone who is taking the drug. Some other side effects of both Adderall and Ritalin include nausea, heavy sweating, headaches, and dehydration. More serious side effects such as depression, increased blood pressure, seizures, and sudden death have also been reported, although these side effects are rare.
David, a third-year student who also wanted to remain anonymous, says that he never takes Adderall because he just does not feel the need to.
“If people would do all their work responsibly and not wait until the last minute, they wouldn’t have to take drugs to get their work done. It’s all about time management,” David said.
Studies in 2005 have shown that at least 20 percent of college students have taken Adderall or Ritalin at least once during their college careers to study, write papers, or take exams, and this number has probably increased since then.
“I would say around 15 percent of my friends take it regularly, but probably around 25 percent of my friends have used it before,” Kelsey said.
With moderate usage, these drugs do not prove to be extremely harmful to people who are not prescribed, but the psychological dependence these drugs can cause is what is most troublesome. Many students start to think that if they need to get something done, they can only get it done by taking one of these drugs. Students also feel that if they have an assignment due, they will not do it as well as they would if they were under the influence of a study drug.
Marcelle Bacon is a second-year student majoring in French. She can be reached at MB6500800@wcupa.edu.