Use of "study drugs" on the rise in universities

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In recent years so-called “study drugs” or “brain steroids”, in other words prescription stimulants, have increased in popularity among students who hope that they will be able to concentrate on work for longer.

Recent studies suggest that stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin are being used by between 5 and 34% of students in US universities, for example. Use of these drugs to boost concentration levels has been documented since 1937, but increased misuse is now particularly concerning.

These stimulants are usually prescribed to adolescents diagnosed with ADHD, to alleviate symptoms of hyperactivity and to help with concentration. Amelia Arris, director of the Centre on Young Adult Health and Development at the University of Maryland, commented in light of this to Times Higher Education.

“It’s a bad idea to take any kind of prescription drug without having physician supervision.”

In fact, it has been shown that students who engage in the non-medical use of prescription stimulants (NPS) tend to miss more lectures and seminars and achieve lower marks. It is not a simple matter of cause and effect, however.

Dr Arria explained: “NPS is a red flag or marker for other substance use, and perhaps [a] more serious level of substance use involvement that is related to…academic disengagement.”

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