After The Fall: Schools’ Crack Down on Study Drugs – What You Need to Know

Students returning to school this fall found stricter rules in place governing study drugs like Adderall and Ritalin. The stimulants, which promise an extra boost of energy and focus to help students make it through exams and activities requiring focus, are now a no-go at dozens of colleges and universities across America amid a crackdown on the non-medical use of prescriptions. Adderall and Ritalin, traditionally used to treat symptoms of attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), have increasingly been abused throughout American college campuses. An article in The New York Times details how universities are starting to put their foot down and say enough is enough. Now many schools, including the University of Alabama, Marist College, and Fresno State, have begun to require that students receiving prescriptions on campus enter into a contractual agreement promising they won’t share their scripts with others. Students may also have to submit to drug testing. Various studies have estimated that as many as 35 percent of college students take stimulants illicitly to boost their focus and drive during periods of heavy stress and during finals exams. Many students are unaware that it is a federal crime to possess these drugs without a prescription. They may also not know that abuse can lead to anxiety, depression and, on occasion, psychosis. Despite lack of stigma and increased access, nonmedical use of stimulants is not safe, and data from the National Institute of Drug Abuse has associated it with the abuse of other substances, namely heroin and cocaine. This means that these students may go on to need treatment for their substance abuse. Other research has also showed a link to binge drinking. Experts say that misuse of drugs like Adderall and Ritalin may partly originate from students who were prescribed the drugs in high school but haven’t been able to get their prescriptions renewed while attending college. According to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 percent of children in America ages 4 to 17 and 15 percent of high school students have received a diagnosis for ADHD. According to Dr. Victor Schwartz who serves as medical director for the Jed Foundation, the widespread abuse is creating a lot of attention making it more difficult for young adults to get unnecessary prescriptions. Those who truly have ADD or ADHD will still be able to get the medications they need, but there will be more stipulations. As a result, Schwartz says we can anticipate less abuse in the future. Dr. Swartz advises that ADD and ADHD are usually diagnosed at a young age. He recommends that older adolescents and young adults who start to experience problems with attention span or focus be tested for other disorders like anxiety or depression.

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