The more some things change, the more they stay the same: professors who believe their course is your number one priority can make finals week a nightmare, especially when you have four or five such instructors! But getting through college without resorting to ADHD medication abuse is a new challenge – one that previous generations did not have to overcome. In 2015, one study found that 17% of college students reported Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) medication abuse. The most commonly reported reason for this drug use was the effort to improve academic performance.
College life is unfairly glamorized as fun 24/7, but the harsh reality is that you’re under a huge amount of stress and pressure. Several factors contribute to the increases in ADHD medication abuse on college campuses.
- Whether it’s graduate school applications or looking your best for corporate recruiters, college is more competitive than ever. The best grades are not only desirable – they’re necessary to get that elusive job or acceptance letter.
- Work-school-life balance. Many students live by the mantra “schoolwork, sleep, social life: you can only pick two.” For many students, part-time jobs and efforts to maintain a social life compete with sleep and school work. If you have to pull all-nighters to fit everything in, using ADHD medication can seem like a solution instead of a problem.
- Due to the increase over the past few decades in legitimate prescriptions for Ritalin or Adderall, access to these medications has increased dramatically.
- Social media. The role of social media is new and powerful, and the anxiety of being disconnected or unplugged is very real for many young people. That sense of needing to be connected all the time “or else I’ll miss something” leads to both anxiety and distractedness. Being able to focus and concentrate on school work becomes difficult, and ADHD medication abuse can seem like a solution.
While many students maintain that their ADHD medication abuse is harmless, stimulant abuse is a serious health risk. Disruptions to normal sleeping and eating habits are common, and can lead to malnutrition, dangerous mood changes and even psychosis. In addition, stimulants can be addictive. If you are using someone else’s medication, get help. Talk to someone at your college’s counseling center to find out how you can stop abusing ADHD medications.