As we all prepare to hunker down for exams and projects, it can be tempting for some to use prescription stimulants (commonly referred to as ‘study drugs’) without a prescription. If you choose to use ‘study drugs’ to prepare for finals, here are a few things you should know to reduce your risk.
1. Prescription stimulants and studying
Prescription stimulants that are used without a prescription in order to increase energy and concentration are often referred to as ‘study drugs’. These drugs contain amphetamine, and are typically prescribed to manage attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Ritalin and Adderall are the two most commonly misused stimulants.
In addition to stimulants, some students may use anti-anxiety medications, like Xanax, without a prescription or not as prescribed. Whether you choose to use stimulants, anti-anxiety meds or other substances, it’s important to know that there is a large market for counterfeit drugs laced with fentanyl. These include any substance purchased off the street, including purchases from friends, classmates or dealers.
2. Understand the risks
While stimulants may help some people focus, they may not help your academic performance overall. In fact, misusing stimulants and amphetamines can lead to unintended consequences, including:
As you think through the risks associated with using ‘study drugs,’ consider if there are alternative ways to achieve the same results while avoiding unwanted experiences. For instance, you may find that you feel more energized after seven to nine hours of sleep at night or you may feel 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. Use alternative strategies to study
When it’s crunch time, study drugs may seem like an option to extend a study session or maintain better focus. However, studies have shown that using study drugs without a prescription doesn’t enhance academic performance. This is because medications like Ritalin or Adderall can make some feel more alert, but they may not improve test-taking or study skills.
Here are a few tips as you prepare for finals:
4. Reduce your risk
Stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin are safest when prescribed by a physician and can pose additional risks when taken without a prescription. Using ‘study drugs’ in combination with other medications or alcohol can create additional risks. For instance, combining stimulants with depressants, such as alcohol, Xanax or opiates, can increase the risk of overdose.
It’s also important to know that any drug not purchased directly from a pharmacy may contain fentanyl. This is because many counterfeit capsules and pressed pills are made to look like prescription medications, including Adderall, Oxycodone and Xanax. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), nearly half of all counterfeit pills tested contained a lethal dose of fentanyl.
Here are some things to keep in mind to reduce your risk:
5. Know the signs of an overdose
If you choose to use study drugs with or without a prescription, you may experience a number of unwanted side effects, including overdose. Call 911 if you or someone you know experiences any of the following: