The staff members of Academic Enhancement are not medical experts or counselors in prescription drug issues. Please consult a medical professional for any and all drug-related questions or concerns. This article is not intended to replace or mimic professional medical or health advice.
On college campuses across the country, students are competing for the highest grades, scholarships, and opportunities. We, in the campus community, have witnessed so-called “smart drugs” quickly and easily moving into the hands of college students seeking an academic edge. An increasing number of students are abusing “smart drugs”, such as the prescription Adderall, to boost their academic performance. “Smart drugs”, like Adderall, are stimulants that one is prescribed and is intended for students with diagnosed learning disabilities. These drugs increase focus and minimize distraction; students using “smart drugs” claim they help with concentration and productivity.
Students are looking for easier study methods, better grades, and more opportunities to surpass their peer competition. Experts reported, to MSN Today Health in May 2011, that 1 in 10 students abuses Adderall. Alarmingly, at UK, Dr. Alan DeSantis of UK’s Communication’s Department, reports that 1 in 3 students have tried using “smart drugs” by their junior year (Carroll, 2011; DeSantis, 2011).
Many first year students who were prescribed and used Adderall in high school, are now coming to college with their prescription. If those students don’t use their medication daily then a surplus is created. It is likely that this surplus medication makes its way into the hands of eager buyersSome students are getting their prescriptions and then selling their surplus medications to other students. College students looking for an academic boost are a captive audience for illegally obtaining and abusing “smart drugs”. As the papers, research projects, and exams pile up, these strenuous academic periods make taking stimulants increasingly appealing
· Alertness Aid for Studying
· Increased Focus and Concentration
· Gaining an Academic Edge: Peer Competition
· Preparing for Raising Academic Expectations
· Responding to Fewer Educational Opportunities: Scholarships, Internships, Research Positions
“Smart drugs” increase your heart rate and raise the dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (a brain relay messenger) that helps to control the brain's reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional responses, and it enables us not only to see rewards, but to take action to move toward them (Newton, 2009; Romanelli, 2011).
Possible side-effects listed on Adderall’s Product Information Sheet for adults are potential:
· Asthenia (body and muscle weakness)
· Urinary tract infections
· Loss of appetite
· Weight loss
Dr. Frank Romanelli, of UK’s College of Pharmacy, reports that Adderall helps users focus and be more alert. Students who take the drug claim it helps with memory but Dr. Romanelli confirms that it just makes “things easier to remember” which is a potential secondary effect. Dr. Romanelli explains that students may become either physically and/or psychologically dependent on the drug. For instance, if a student writes a paper while using Adderall and gets an A on that paper then the student makes psychological associations between getting A’s with using “smart drugs”
Dr. Romanelli reported, “If UK doesn’t have a problem [with “smart drugs”] than we are abnormal.” He also reports seeing an increase in ADHD and other psychological diagnoses over the last 10 years and that has led to more questioning. UK’s Communication’s Department has been conducting social study surveys twice a year for the last 6 years. Dr. Alan DeSantis, who leads the survey, has discovered that UK has a slightly higher rate of abuse than other universities. Please look for our follow up article from the social science perspective (Romanelli, 2011; DeSantis, 2011).
· Regular Exercise
· Healthy Eating
· Caffeinated Beverages (in moderation)
· Good Sleep Habits
· Early Studying and Exam Preparation
· Stress and Anxiety Management
· Speaking with a Counselor
If you or someone you know would like more information about drug-related issues please contact a medical professional or UK’s Counseling Center at (859) 257-8701 or visit them at 201 Frazie Hall.
Carroll, L. (2011, May 17). Steroids for School: College Students get hooked on smart drugs. Retrieved August 18, 2011, from MSN Today Health: http://today.msnbc.com/id/43050779/ns/today-today_health/t/steroids-school-college-students-get-hooked-smart-drugs
DeSantis, D. A. (2011, October 28). Professor in the Communication's Department at the University of Kentucky. (K. Avra, Interviewer)
Newton, D. P. (2009, April 26). What is Dopamine? The neurotransmitter's role inthe brain and behavior. Retrieved October 21, 2011, from Psychology Today: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mouse-man/200904/what-is-dopamine
Romanelli, D. F. (2011, September 1). Professor in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Kentucky. (K. Avra, Interviewer)
Roxby, P. (2011, April 2). Do 'smart drugs' really make us brainier? Retrieved August 18, 2011, from BBC Health News: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-12922451
Shire Biopharmaceutical Company. (2011). Adderall Product Information Sheet. US Food and Drug Administration.