Are Academic Pressures Driving Students to Prescription Drug Abuse?

We’ve covered the dangers of prescription drug abuse in college students in a past issue, but now news reports show that the use of prescription drugs has become a growing trend among high school students as well. A New York Times story reports that high school students are increasingly pressured to do well in school, get into the top colleges, and stay on top of their game, so they are turning to prescription drugs, like Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse to study longer hours at night and achieve scholastic excellence. According to interviews with students, it’s relatively easy to get your hands on prescription medication; they get it from friends, friends of friends, and even doctors to whom they fake symptoms just so they can get their hands on the drugs. One student admitted to lying to his psychiatrist so he could score a bottle of Concerta, a medication used to treat ADHD.These medications are prescribed to people with ADHD because it gives them energy and focus to work on projects. But students, with or without ADHD, have been using it to pull all-night study sessions for major exams, like the SATs. Although little is known about the long-term affects of prescription medication abuse of these drugs, mood swings, depression, withdrawal, and heart irregularities are some of the effects. Some have reported hallucination and exhaustion. When asked whether they thought taking prescription medication to further their academic career was considered cheating, some students claimed that the longer study hours gave an unfair advantage to those who didn’t take the drugs, but others say that the drugs don’t give them the answers.

Whether or not students choose to take a prescription drug to do well in school, it’s alarming that many are easily convinced to take it. What do you think? Would you ever take a prescription drug to improve your academic performance?