As we prepare for exams and projects, it may be tempting for some to use prescription stimulants (commonly referred to as ‘study drugs’) without a prescription or not as prescribed to try and get ahead.
If you choose to use substances while studying, here are a few things you should know.
1. Why are they called ‘study drugs’?
Study drugs are prescription stimulants that are used without a prescription or not as prescribed in an attempt to increase a person’s stamina, energy or concentration. However, research shows that using ‘study drugs,’ such as Ritalin or Adderall, without a proper diagnosis or prescription doesn’t enhance academic performance.
2. What are possible risks and side effects?
While some people may believe that using stimulants without a prescription may help them focus better, they’re not likely to help your academic performance. In fact, misusing stimulants and amphetamines can lead to unintended consequences, including:
As you think through the risks and side effects associated with using ‘study drugs,’ consider if there are alternative ways to achieve the same results while avoiding unwanted experiences. For instance, you may feel more energized after seven to nine hours of sleep at night or more productive if you break down your study blocks into smaller sections.
Note: Side effects can occur when stimulants are used with or without a prescription. If you are currently using stimulants as prescribed to treat a condition and are concerned about negative side effects, contact your healthcare provider.
3. What are some alternatives?
When it’s crunch time, ‘study drugs’ may seem like an effortless way to extend a study session or maintain better focus. However, studies have shown that using study drugs without a prescription does not enhance academic performance. This is because medications like Ritalin or Adderall typically do not improve a person’s test-taking or study skills, even if it makes them feel more alert.
The most effective way to improve your grades and prepare for exams is to start early, give yourself plenty of time to study, get plenty of sleep and take regular breaks.
Here are a few tips to try:
4. How can you reduce your risk?
Taking any prescription medication not as prescribed or without a prescription can pose risks. This includes the use of stimulants to study and anti-anxiety medications (e.g., Xanax) to cope. For instance, combining stimulants with depressants, such as alcohol, Xanax or opiates, can increase the risk of overdose.
Here are some things to keep in mind to reduce your risk:
It’s also important to know that any drug not purchased directly from a pharmacy may contain fentanyl, methamphetamine or other substances. This is because many counterfeit capsules and pressed pills are made to look like prescription medications, including Adderall, Percocet, Oxycontin, Roxicodone and Xanax. In fact, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), nearly half of all counterfeit prescriptions tested contained a lethal dose of fentanyl. Keep in mind that any pill you may purchase from friends, classmates or dealers may be counterfeit.
5. How can you prevent overdoses?
If you choose to use study drugs with or without a prescription, you may experience a number of unwanted side effects, including accidental overdose.
Call 911 if you or someone you know experiences any of the following:
6. What other support is available?
CU Boulder has a variety of resources to help students prepare for exams and projects. These are a great alternative to going it alone and can be more effective than using study drugs.