With exam and college application season in full swing, students and teachers find the rise of a new problem: study drugs.
“Study drugs” are drugs normally prescribed to people with ADD and ADHD to increase concentration. The medication, such as Adderall, helps people who have a hard time paying attention in class and focusing.
Many students need these drugs to concentrate in class. But some students who are not prescribed these drugs are taking them to heighten their concentration so that it is above average.
When students take ADD and ADHD medication who don’t actually need it, the drugs allow them to focus for longer periods of time and stay awake all night working. However, they also have negative side effects (see chart above), which is why many of them are controlled substances. People can become addicted to Adderall and Vyvanse. Some of the drugs students take can also cause seizures, insomnia and mood changes.
Despite all of these side effects, students still feel the need to take the drugs. One reason is that many students find themselves under a lot of pressure to succeed in school.
“There’s a lot of…competition…it’s driven by…colleges and getting [a] good job in the workplace…there’s a lot of competition in between students to get the best grades,” said Andrew May, a senior at Leesville.
Because study drugs allow students to concentrate for such long periods of time, they can be especially prevalent during exam time. Students are under a lot of pressure to do well on exams, like the SAT and ACT. As a result, they feel the need to study as much as possible and believe the drugs can help them do so.
Some people see the drugs as unethical and think they give certain students an edge over other students. However, other students think that since many people can access the drugs, it’s not actually unfair.
“It does [give students an edge], but I think most people could probably get [study drugs] if they wanted to,” said Bo Byers, a sophomore at Leesville.
Despite being easy to access, students should keep in mind that study drugs can have many side effects and are only meant for people who need them.