Ritalin and Cocaine: The Connection and the Controversy
Study drugs are prescription stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin that are used . She plans to pursue a career in public relations, and she may even do so. Smith and Farah discuss the drugs in detail; methylphenidate, . found in a variety of research related to other drugs around the world [26, 27]. Methylphenidate, sold under the trade names Ritalin among others, is a stimulant medication . Moreover, it has been suggested that students who use the drug for studying may be self-medicating for treatment in children, but no causal relationship has been established and reductions do not appear to persist long- term.
Another article based in a similar region, time, design, and sample population suggests the opposite. The article directly encourages academic policies against study drugs be employed to reduce their consumption [ 25 ]. A new report from the Lancet Commission on Drug Policy and Health challenges prohibiting drugs with strong arguments related to health, human rights, economics, and international development [ 27 ].
They cite regions such as Portugal, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and a city in Canada as case examples [ 27 ]. Studies in neuroscience show that simply prohibiting the use of drugs and describing them as simple control issues in which users can naturally stop does not support best models of recovery from drug addiction [ 28 ]. Solutions with stronger evidence yielding clearer and more positive recommendations for decreasing study drug use will now be discussed. Discovering real motivations for drug use Arria and Dupont discuss in their literature review how decreasing study drug use, such as through educational sessions in orientation weeks, is gaining attention and positive support as new research helps understand why students use study drugs in the first place [ 3 ].
Main reasons for use include misinformation on the effects of these drugs on health and academic improvement and the use of study drugs as coping mechanisms for deeper underlying issues [ 34 ].
It is important to note that not all students who use these drugs may be experiencing a deeper underlying issue, as many students may use it recreationally and function normally, but important to consider this risk group to help promote effective solutions for those who do [ 2 ].
Using Study Drugs To Get Better Grades: Why You Should Think Twice
Many students believe that study drugs help improve their grade point average GPAand this belief increases their risk of using them [ 3 ]. This view is challenged by a recent rigorous longitudinal cohort study found that non-prescribed prescription stimulants had no significant effect on university GPA [ 5 ]. Furthermore, research suggests that having a low GPA is a significant risk factor for using study drugs [ 1229 ].
The findings that prescription stimulants commonly do not improve academic performance are consistent with other research that suggests they may be more of a means of coping for a deeper underlying issue [ 34 ]. This hypothesis asserts that an individual uses a drug to achieve a particular emotional state which the substance promotes [ 35 ]. Common motivations for achieving such a state are to address feelings of stress, feeling overwhelmed, or of low self-esteem, and to promote feelings of confidence, calmness, and being in control [ 35 ].
When an individual becomes reliant on a substance to promote these feelings, symptoms of addiction follow [ 35 ]. This model of motivations for drug use can be shown through qualitative interviews and quantitative surveys [ 1343637 ]. Increased access to the drug methylphenidate Ritalin actually increased the probability of the students with ADHD not completing a postsecondary education, committing minor crimes, and girls showed an increased likelihood of experiencing depression [ 37 ].
The authors attribute social factors such as the stigma of having ADHD, as well as personal factors such as having an underlying behavioral issue requiring care beyond medication that is not provided in an educational setting, as motivations for negative health outcomes [ 37 ].
Using Study Drugs To Get Better Grades: Why You Should Think Twice | Her Campus
Medication has been very effective, however, in reducing symptoms for many individuals who have ADHD in other works [ 71438 — 40 ]. Another important risk factor for abusing a prescription stimulant drug is dealing with an underlying mental health issue [ 342 ]. This suggests it might be a coping mechanism to deal with risk factors of those illnesses such as anxiety [ 42 ]. The strong influence of anxiety, self-efficacy, and self-awareness on these disorders are discussed extensively in the new results of Micali et al.
- “Study Drug” Abuse by College Students: What You Need to Know
- Ritalin and Cocaine: The Connection and the Controversy
Furthermore, individuals with previous history of mental health issues tend to have the poorest outcomes when using these substances [ 101114 ].
As underlying risk factors for use have been identified, and current prohibitionist policies have been found ineffective for many populations, solutions to reducing a complex behavior such as study drug consumption could therefore be more effective if they focus on underlying risk factors for their use such as low perceived self-efficacy, accommodating special needs, non-academic influences that contribute to a reduced GPA, and treating symptoms of an underlying issue [ 13242734374244 ].
Solutions applied in practice will now be suggested and evaluated from a harm reduction perspective. Solutions from harm reduction and addiction science In their comprehensive review of factors influencing risk of study drug use in North American universities, Arria and Dupont directly suggest study drug users should meet with mental health professionals [ 3 ]. The concept that people can continue to use drugs while taking precautions to mitigate risk, but not necessarily decreasing their consumption, relates to harm reduction [ 45 ].
Harm reduction is based on the recognition that many people will continue to use drugs through efforts to prevent their use, that the majority of them do not need treatment, and that there are things that can be done to help these groups achieve healthier and more favorable outcomes [ 45 ]. It focuses on principles of public health and human rights that are practical, feasible, and effective [ 45 ].
There is a need to disseminate harm reduction information to help individuals and policy makers be in a position to make better-informed decisions relating to drug use and to provide more opportunities to lead healthier lives. Another harm reduction strategy Arria suggests is to provide systems in place that reduce peer pressure and stigma promoting a student with ADHD to share their medication, which has been reported to be high on university campuses [ 3 ].
This is important and concerning as students with ADHD are the main source of access for other students to reach these drugs, and it is reported that many do not adhere to taking thier medication regularly as prescribed [ 2338 ].
The authors recommend that physicians and parents are key figures who can successfully empower students with ADHD not to share their medication and should have discussions with them on this topic [ 3 ]. Doing so can help students with access to this medication feel more comfortable using it safely for its intended purpose. As some students with ADHD who used methylphenidate Ritalin had negative impacts on health and academic performance, potentially due to stigma associated with having ADHD, educational institutions may be able to improve outcomes for this population through improving inclusivity and integration between all students under their care [ 37 ].
Reducing stigma even among drug users without ADHD has been directly recommended to improve outcomes in other studies [ 327 ]. These outcomes are important components of harm reduction [ 45 ]. Campaigns that address these issues such as through working towards improving confidence, increasing self-efficacy, and making coursework more enjoyable, may promote better outcomes for this population [ 3436 ].
Furthermore, campaigns that promote high self-efficacy, along with participating in a sports team, increased parental monitoring, and practicing task-solving skills may also decrease overall drug consumption and mitigate harms of using them, such as by reducing overdoses, through increasing likelihood of maintaining a high GPA [ 1229 — 33 ].
This decreases the risk of using these drugs [ 1229 ]. Another way to mitigate risk addresses a reported a lack of knowledge on risks of using study drugs among the general student body [ 2 — 412 ]. Universities can include a general education session on the dangers of study drug use, risk factors for use, and options to get help if already using for all incoming students during orientation week [ 3 ].
Doing so could help students who are currently using these drugs to learn where to get help to use them in safer ways, all students better understand some risk factors for using them and where to get help if they think they fall into a risk factor category, and discourage students interested in trying for the first time from putting themselves at risk or expose them to potential addiction [ 3 ].
This is similar to a survey finding students perceptions of high peer use of study drugs is a significant risk factor for their personal use [ 25 ]. If students feel that there are less people using these drugs as there are more options for alternative methods of support, drug use may decrease as a whole and existing use may be done in safer ways.
Social support, empowerment, and lack of knowledge are further shown to reduce study drug use in Holloway et al. It was recommended that physicians, pharmaceutical companies, and educational institutions be aware of this issue and educate university students on the true issues of using these drugs and ways to get help to reduce use [ 4 ].
Increased exposure to pro-drug websites may indirectly increase overall drug consumption, as was in the case with cigarettes [ 46 ]. Holloway recommends social support such as psychological for students with current mental illnesses or alcohol use disorders that put them at higher risk of study drug abuse [ 4 ].
This is consistent with previous findings which suggest that helping students feel more comfortable reaching out for help when they need, and ensuring services to accommodate them are available, mitigates harms of consuming study drugs while reducing overall consumption [ 3354247 ].
A drawback of these recommendations on increasing knowledge, promoting factors such as self-efficacy, and accommodating students with special needs is the financial expenses required for them to occur. Using existing services to promote campaigns similar to those they already do, with consideration of reducing harms and promoting well-being for students who use study drugs, may ensure maximum positive outcomes with minimal fee increases.
Students can complete this test upon initial entry to a postsecondary institution . Those at high risk, such as those with previous history of drug use or withdrawal symptoms in the past 12 months, are referred to psychological services for preventative measures [ 449 ].
Something to consider is that this strategy might stigmatize students who receive high-risk feedback. These theories suggest that people hope to see themselves in a positive manner but might try to see themselves negatively if they are told to believe so, and that negative belief then promotes the negative behavior [ 50 ].
People tend to behave in the way that they are described by others [ 50 ]. Many students with an Adderall or other ADHD prescription believe that distributing the drug is legal and a good way to make money. The minimum sentence for distributing a Schedule II drug like Adderall is five years in prison.
Even though these drugs do not make students smarter, does using them the night before the test to stay up cramming give a student an unfair advantage the next day? Even if the advantage is not greater than caffeine, should it be treated differently if the drug was illegally obtained?
Every drug comes with risks, and Adderall and other ADHD drugs have more risks than many other commonly used medications. When physicians prescribe a patient that has ADHD a drug like Adderall, they should carefully weigh the risks against the benefits it provides. Students who abuse these stimulants often do not consider the risks of the drug either because they are not aware of them or they assume that, as an FDA-approved drug, there are no risks.
The most common side effect of Adderall and other stimulants is insomnia, which appeals to students who use it stay awake.
Taking Ritalin to study may change brain chemistry
While these effects are minor for most young people, if a student has a heart condition, Adderall could be deadly. In rare cases, Adderall can cause hallucinations, cardiac arrests, and even death for people with a heart condition.
The likelihood of these risks occurring increases if Adderall is used without a prescription and at higher than recommended dosages, as often is the case among abusers. However, if students have serious attention issues, they should see a doctor for a medical diagnosis instead of asking a friend to illegally use Adderall or other prescription stimulants.
All articles on our website have been approved by Dr.