Stopping the Abuse of the Drugs by Students
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Study drugs such as Adderall and Vyvanse are widely abused on college campuses in the United States, creating seen and unseen complications for college students. This is significant as the misuse of these drugs and lead to immediate and long term medical issues, therefore it is necessary for universities and the government to work together to solve this growing issue with young adults in American society today.
Study drugs are often looked over by college students as powerful, brain manipulating substances because they are FDA approved, and very commonly prescribed to treat patients with ADHD and narcolepsy. Many of these drugs share the same immediate side effects such as insomnia and weight loss. All of these side effects can of course become serious when someone without a prescription incorrectly doses their intake of the drug. When prescribing a powerful drug like Adderall (or any other drug for that matter), doctors carefully calculate the dosage they assign to patients due to the effects a new substance can have on the human body. Dopamine is a chemical messenger responsible for a large variety of functions in the human body. Insomnia is defined as habitual sleeplessness and inability to sleep. Study drugs often cause insomnia because of the way they interact with the dopamine receptors in the brain. When these drugs enter the brain of someone who is chemically balanced, they overload the brain with the amount of dopamine it needs. The overload of dopamine stimulates the brain for an extended period of time, causing an inability to sleep. Sleep deprivation is the second largest trigger of seizures, so it is no surprise that abusers of study drugs commonly have seizures after staying up to study for long periods of time. I personally have witnessed three people have seizures during exams in my one and a half years at the University of Missouri. Weight loss is an extremely common side effect of study drugs as your appetite is also tied to dopamine. Study can suppress many of the brains messages by blocking the dopamine passageways. Instead of your brain communicating with your digestive system, you essentially lose communication and can go hours without the urge to eat. Among many other side effects, these are arguably the two most serious and can lead to life threatening medical issues.
Study drugs are powerful substances that can very easily lead to very problematic addictions. The human brain continues to develop well into your twenties, meaning that you are most susceptible to lifelong addictions and neurological problems even in your college years. To examine the lifelong effects of misusing study drugs, we need to analyze other potential harmful actions performed by abusers of these drugs. People that misuse study drugs are often college students with high stress levels that branch off to using other drugs once they become addicted to mental stimulants. High stress levels by abusers can be tied to multiple reasons. Study drugs are often used by abusers to retain as much information as possible in a very short time span. Students do this because the often do not attend class, and rely on the drugs to help them learn a whole unit a day or two before the test. When it comes to be exam time, many students are on the come down of their adderall high, leaving their brains with a lack of dopamine, therefore, a lack of communication in the brain. When students leave their exam, they more than likely have a strong feeling of uneasiness, causing high levels of stress.
Abusers often cope with this stress with methods more harmful than taking the drug in the first place. More than ninety percent of students who use study drugs without a prescription are binge alcohol drinkers. Binge drinking is defined by the Food and Drug Administration as “the consumption within about two hours of four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men”. Binge drinking can lead to detrimental side effects such as: heart disease, increased risk of cancer, brain damage, and alcohol poisoning. Studies show that people who use study drugs non-medically are three times more likely to use marijuana. Marijuana is more than likely used to both relieve stress and to help abusers sleep after a long study session. Although the use of marijuana is not as serious of a problem as binge drinking, it can cause problems with your respiratory system if not consumed correctly. Studies also show that abusers of study drugs are eight times as likely to use cocaine.
The use of cocaine is likely due to abusers addiction to mental stimulants. When drugs like Adderall are used repeatedly, the brain attempts to balance its dopamine levels by producing less dopamine. This leads to abusers lacking a sense of motivation and ability to focus when not on the drug. Cocaine is similar in the fact that it is a mental stimulant that gives the user an immediate rush of dopamine in the brain. The use of cocaine comes with life-threatening side effects such as an increased risk of: heart attack, stroke, seizure, and respiratory failure. Overall, the risks of abusing study drugs extend far beyond what the drug alone can do to your body, as it includes a chain of harmful and sometimes deadly behavior.
The abuse of study drugs on college campuses in the United States is more common than ever. Students who use study drugs usually don’t understand how harmful the misuse of study drugs can be until it’s too late. Universities and Governments need to work together to stop the abuse of these drugs both preemptively and after the abuse has already started.
Universities have a large influence on what students do when on their campuses. The largest demographic of study drug abusers is underclassmen students living in residence halls on campus. In part, this is due to the fact that students that are new to college aren’t used to the massive workload required to succeed at most universities. However, I believe there are actions schools can take to greatly reduce the misuse of study drugs by dorm residents. College residence halls almost always have an advisor on every floor. Hall advisors are responsible for the overall well being of the students on their floor and performing room checks. Several times a semester, hall advisors go through the rooms on their floor, primarily searching for alcohol and marijuana. If hall advisors were to explicitly state that they will be searching for prescription drugs, students would be less inclined to buy the drugs from their peers. Making students register their prescriptions with the school, and therefore the hall advisors, would also help to prevent the sale of prescription drugs. If students with prescriptions knew they were liable for the drugs found in their peers possession, they would be far less likely to sell their prescriptions.
The United States Government also plays a role in preventing the misuse of study drugs on college campuses. The United States does have laws in place to prevent the sale of a controlled substance, but there is only so much the law can do. No matter how strict the laws are concerning the sale of a substance, there will always be a demand and an illegal marketplace. The government should take steps to stop the problem at the source. A study shows that over twenty percent of the four million five hundred thousand people diagnosed with ADHD are misdiagnosed. A more thorough diagnosis process by doctors could help eliminate a portion of the illegal supply of drugs. This is a difficult method to go about making as you need to be cautious of making the process too difficult, and by doing so, denying patients that do have ADHD of the medication they need.