Why Are College Students Who Don’t Have ADHD Taking ADHD Drugs?

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By: Krystle Crossman

This is the time of year when students in college are up all night cramming for upcoming finals. The end of the semester is almost upon them and everyone feels that last minute push to study. Some students will head to the library to study alone. Some will get a group together to study. Others will lock themselves in their dorm rooms until they feel that they are ready. Unfortunately there is another group of students that will resort to taking drugs in order to stay awake and be alert enough to cram.

Students are becoming more and more likely to start taking prescription drugs illegally that are normally used to treat ADHD. These types of medications such as Vyvanse, Adderall, and Ritalin are meant to help those with ADHD to calm down and focus on the task at hand. Sadly these prescription drugs are being abused more and more by college students as they feel the pressure to get good grades and keep up with the heavy course load. A 2009 study from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health Report showed that students who were enrolled in college full-time were twice as likely to abuse prescription drugs such as Adderall than their part-time counterparts.

Different types of colleges have different rates of students that use prescription stimulants with private colleges being the worst. Some researchers are estimating that 30% of students at top schools are abusing stimulants to keep up with their coursework. The upperclassmen are the worst offenders too as they are seeing graduation in their sights. Around 90% of people who abuse these stimulants are doing so in order to concentrate better on what they are studying.

A study in 2008 showed that 81% of 1,800 students interviewed didn’t think that taking prescription stimulants illegally was harmful or dangerous at all. They underestimate the addictive power of the medication. There is a reason that it is listed as a Schedule II drug and is held up on the DEA’s list next to meth and cocaine.

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