The pressure that is put on students these days is pretty overwhelming. There is a drive to be perfect and competition is incredibly high. They have to get straight A’s, get college credit while in High School, get graduate credit while in undergrad, finish early, and be the best, and if they can’t manage this they are deemed failures. We push and push our children and in the process we create a culture that permits unhealthy habits in order to get a competitive edge.
This culture can be seen on just about every American college campus where students are taking study drugs, such as Ritalin or Adderall, in order to study longer and retain information better. Many of these students are not prescribed these drugs, but rather take them when they need to cram for a test or sit down and write a paper. Prescription pills rank #5 as the world’s most dangerous drugs and Adderall and Ritalin are prescription drugs to further the concern consider the following information. One recent study showed that usage of study drugs is so prevalent that 61.8% of college students surveyed had been offered these drugs over the past two years. Of those surveyed 31.0% had actually taken drugs, that they were not prescribed, to study, which means that almost 1 in 3 college students have used narcotics in order to study in the past two years.
The same can be seen in high schools all across the country although the numbers aren’t as high. A 2013 study found that 7.4% of 12th graders had used non-prescribed Adderall within the previous year. While 7.4% may not seem like it is very high, Adderall was the most widely abused prescription drug among this age group, and only marijuana and alcohol were abused at higher rates.
Many of these students are unaware of the addictive properties of these drugs or the effects that they can have on their body, and most feel in the moment that getting a good grade is more important than their general wellbeing.
Adderall and other such drugs are powerful central nervous stimulants. The psychoactive chemical in Adderall is dextroamphetamine, which is very similar to the chemical makeup of methamphetamine. While methamphetamine is widely known to have devastating effects on the body, the effects that Adderall and other study drugs have is not as well known. This is in part because these drugs are legal and widely prescribed, so people believe that they are safe to take, but Adderall and other study drugs can have extremely negative effects on a person. Some of which are:
A suppression of the appetite and unhealthy weight loss
Like their stimulant counterparts, many study drugs are known to suppress the appetite of the person taking them, which over an extended period of time can lead to an unhealthy drop in weight. This occurs because dextroamphetamine and amphetamine increase the amount of dopamine released in the brain, which tells the body that it is satisfied. By doing this the body then is unaware that it is hungry.
This side effect is partially why college students use Adderall and other such drugs to study. The stimulant effect allows them to stay awake for long periods of time without the need for sleep, but without sleep a person can experience all sorts of negative side effects, such as hallucinations, heightened emotionality, and a breakdown in decision making.
Potential for dangerous cardiac issues
Since study drugs are stimulants they are known to raise blood pressure, body temperature and in certain cases can even result in sudden cardiac arrest. This does not necessarily only come about from extended use but can occur after only one usage. If you are taking a study drug that is not prescribed to you then you may run a higher risk of experiencing one of these side effects since a doctor didn’t perform a check-up before giving you the medication. It is important to understand that these are powerful drugs and so their effects on the body can be dramatic.
A Decreased Ability to Concentrate
One of the side effects of taking study drugs for a prolonged period of time is actually a decrease in ability to focus. This is interesting because many of these drugs are taken so that the person can concentrate for longer, but studies have shown that prolonged usage of these drugs actually have the adverse effect.
Like all stimulants study drugs have the potential to lead a person into addiction. No one starts out using drugs believing that they are going to be addicted, but in 2012 116,000 people entered into drug treatment for Adderall addiction. Many people who start using this drug to study are unaware if they are predisposed to drug addiction and even if they are not, they could find themselves physically addicted to the drug before they even know what is happening.
So while the pressures of modern living continue to increase, we have to be conscious of the message that we are sending our children. If that message is that you have to succeed at any and all costs, then the number of students who abuse study drugs will continue to increase. These are powerful drugs and many people are unaware of the effects that they can have on the body, and while there are legitimate medical reasons for their usage, educating the youth on what these drugs can do to them is important. Getting them to understand that staying up all night with the help of narcotics in order to study is not a rite of passage and as a society we shouldn’t be putting this type of pressure on our children.
About Rose Lockinger, guest blogger
Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.
You can find her on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram
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