Colleges Becoming More Aware of Prescription Drug Abuse

Drug and alcohol use have been synonymous with the college experience for decades. Binge drinking and recreational drug use are the behaviors that typically come to mind with college students but recent studies suggest prescription drug abuse is a rising problem on most college campuses.

Health surveys administered by colleges to their students are showing evidence regarding a rising trend of students using prescription drugs for non-medical reasons. The problem facing intervention efforts is the classification of drug use, according to students. The majority of students using prescription drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin report using the drugs not as social stimulants but as study aids for academic success.

Many students wanting to stay up and cram all night have been turning to stimulant drugs like Adderall. Students report a more effective level of focus when taking Adderall and feel more work is accomplished when on the drug. Surprisingly, no correlations have been found between taking Adderall and increased academic success. In fact, students who turn to stimulant drugs have lower grade point averages than other students and are more likely to skip college classes.


A study from the University of Michigan discovered 7.9 percent of students use Adderall without a prescription for the drug. The number of students admitting non-medical use of prescription drugs in 2005 was five times more than in 1999. Advocates for prescription drug prevention on college campuses acknowledge the lack of data about the problem but are noticing more schools investigating the behavior. Wesleyan University revised their student honor code by including prescription drug abuse as a form of cheating academically.

While colleges are becoming increasingly aware of non-medical prescription drug abuse, the intentions of the abuse will prove difficult for prevention methods. “These are not drugs, this is medicine,” Ross Aikins explained regarding the view students hold about using stimulants for studying. Aikins is a graduate doctoral student studying stimulant use at the University of California. Because students are using the drugs to improve academics the consequences of abuse are not taken as seriously as recreational drug or alcohol use.

Via USAToday








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