Studying today is definitely not like what it was a decade ago. For one, anyone doing any kind of studying or research today needs to deal with an untold number of distractions, making any effort to focus quite difficult.
This is one of the major contributors to the proliferation and increasing use of study drugs today. While the intent for its use is, in itself, a good cause, there is a very thin line between use and abuse of the substance, with most people crossing it eventually.
Study drugs are typically prescription stimulants that help:
- Boost awareness
- Focus for a limited time
To do this, the stimulants increase:
- Blood pressure
- Breathing rate
- Heart rate of the person taking it
Some stimulants, such as Ritalin and Adderall, are prescribed by doctors as a treatment for conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Why Do People Use Study Drugs?
Unlike most other substances that are abused to get high, the vast majority of people who abuse study drugs do so with the intent to increase their ability to study and boost their performance in academics.
The problem lies in the fact that just like most other substances with significant effects, study drugs are habit-forming. The users barely even realize that they are completely hooked on it and will take any excuse they could find to use it.
Maintain Feeling of Wakefulness
This is particularly true for students who also happen to be working their way through their studies. Long nights at work or pushing double shifts to meet study expenses could entice them to use anything just to stay awake in class.
Conversely, students who would use any excuse to party or hang out with friends all night rely on stimulants to keep them awake in class the following day.
Sharpen Focus and Drown out Distractions
There are people who get easily distracted by even the slightest things. Most students are advised to turn off their devices and stick to whatever study site they are browsing on the internet to help them focus.
The internet, however, being what it is, is almost a guarantee that no amount of work would get finished. There are an infinite number of websites that students could “conveniently” stumble onto, ensuring they are constantly sidetracked from what they are supposed to do.
Ease of Access
It is no secret that there are students that legitimately need stimulants in their ADHD treatment who sell their medication to others for cash.
In other cases, they are coerced or bullied into selling their medication to other students who are hooked on it. As with most cases of bullying, these incidents remained largely unreported, turning students with ADHD into unwilling accessories to drug abuse.
The life of a student is already quite stressful in itself, and isolation and rejection could make it even worse. This is why many students often give in to questionable habits just so they could “fit in” and not be excluded by their peers.
To make it all worse, those with common sense not to give in to peer pressure are singled out and targeted because they are often accused of reporting the students who do abuse substances. This is perhaps one of the best examples of a catch-22 situation as a student.
Financial problems are also among the typical addict behaviors in relationships. When someone is buying drugs, they may find themselves in financial trouble. If they are unable to hold down a job, this will only add to their difficulties.
Further, if an addict is spending all of their money on drugs, they may resort to criminal activity to get the funds they need. This can put a strain on any relationships they are in. If someone close to you is exhibiting this behavior, they may be addicted to drugs.
When looking for a way to pay for drugs, the addict may begin to ask for money for unexplained reasons. And despite how much money you give them, they may continue to ask for more. If you notice that someone you’re close to is constantly asking for money and not giving any explanation as to why this could be a sign of addiction.
How Do Young Adults or Graduates Abuse Study Drugs?
Graduation, unfortunately, is no guarantee of a life free from dependence on study drugs. The demands of the modern world on a fresh graduate are unimaginably difficult and continue to become even more so as time goes by.
For Help in Double Shifts and Two Jobs
The quickest jobs to get into are also often the hardest and most tiring. There are many cases of young adults fresh out of school securing two jobs just to pay off their student loans, and to do so, they take stimulants to minimize sleep and have more work hours.
Compensating for Travel Fatigue
Not everyone is fortunate enough to secure a living arrangement near their new job. Many still reside where they did as students and have to travel quite a distance to work.
While being young does imbue fresh graduates with surplus energy, traveling every day from home to work and back again could drain it all after some time, hence the reliance on stimulants.
Misguided Notions from Store-bought Energy Boosters
Fatigue and the need to make ends meet have a way to push a person into desperation. Add to that the seemingly endless advertisements of store-bought energy boosters, and it’s easy to see why many think stimulants are in the grey area between acceptable and illicit.
With most people taking to the internet to research anything, it is so easy to look up what’s inside a store-bought energy booster. It’s also immensely easy, albeit misguided, to equate these components with what’s in stimulants.
What are the Common Study Drugs?
Most study drugs are usually grouped as either amphetamines or methylphenidates, although today, there are numerous stimulants being used by people all over the world.
Some of the more common stimulants or study drugs include:
Perhaps the most commonly abused study drug, Adderall is primarily used to treat ADHD. It is a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine and is known to help people improve their listening skills, sharpen their focus enough to maintain attention, and stay awake longer. The latter effect also makes it an ideal drug to treat narcolepsy, a sleeping disorder.
This medication, also known as methylphenidate HCL, is similar to Adderall in that it is used to treat ADHD, attention deficit disorder (ADD), and narcolepsy. It helps maintain concentration enough to stay awake and focused on activities.
Also similar to Adderall and Ritalin, primarily used to treat ADHD, behavioral issues, and lack of impulse control.
Dexmethylphenidate is commercially known as Focalin and is used in the treatment of ADHD. Compared to the others, this stimulant is mild enough to be given to children above five years of age.
This medication, more properly known as Lisdexamfetamine, is used to treat ADHD alongside psychological, social, and other treatment components. It helps in focusing attention and in stifling constant fidgeting.
This medication is primarily used in the treatment of sleep disorders such as narcolepsy and obstructive sleep apnea. It is also the drug of choice for people who work on changing shift schedules, as not everyone can adapt their sleeping patterns to the changes.
Bacopa Monnieri, in the strictest sense, is actually a supplement and not a medication. It is believed to help in improving memory retention, enhance focus for better reading comprehension, and help with memory retention.
This medication is used to treat people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, particularly with the aspect of memory function.
How is Study Drug Dependence Treated?
As with every other form of substance abuse and dependence, the first thing to do with studying drug addiction is to get the person to quit taking it. This is to prevent any further damage from happening and increase the chances of success of the rehabilitation phase.
Study drug dependence presents a unique challenge because while it is a form of addiction, it does not fall under the typical classification of the person becoming a menace to society. If anything else, the person would definitely feel and believe that they became a better version of themselves because of the study drug.
This is where therapy becomes important, as there is a need to get the person the study drug dependence to understand that there are other ways to get better. Use of the study drug only provides a brief moment of focus and mental enhancement, with potentially long-term damage.
Study Drug Statistics
Study drug addiction has become quite prevalent in schools today. A study done in 2020 reveals that one in every 5 students has admitted to misusing prescription stimulants like Adderall or Ritalin.
The prevalence partially stems from the fact that students know that these stimulants are also prescribed to younger people with ADHD, ADD, and behavioral issues. As such, there is the prevailing notion that prescription stimulants are safe.
The same study noted that the people that mostly abused study drugs are between the ages of 18 and 25, the phase where college students are closest to graduation and to finding their first jobs.
In the US, 16.3 million people misuse prescriptions in a year. 22.6% of them or 3.7 million people misuse prescriptions for the first time. Prescription drug abusers constitute 5.76% of Americans over the age of 12.
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Free by the Sea is a great resource for addiction treatment because it offers a unique approach that is both effective and affordable. This comprehensive approach has proven to be highly effective in helping clients achieve long-term sobriety. The team at Free by the Sea takes a holistic approach to addiction treatment, which means that they not only focus on helping their clients overcome their addiction but also on addressing the underlying causes of their addiction. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, contact us today to learn more about our drug rehab in Washington!
Dr. Richard Crabbe joined our team in 2019 as our psychiatrist and medical director. He attended the University of Ghana Medical School where he became a Medical Doctor in 1977. From 1978 through 1984, he was a medical officer in the Ghana Navy and provided a variety of services from general medicine to surgeries. He received his Certificate in General Psychology from the American Board of Psychology and Neurology in 2002.