As we prepare to hunker down for exams and projects, it can be tempting for some to use study drugs not as prescribed. If you choose to use study drugs to prepare for finals, here are a few things you should know.
What are study drugs?
Study drugs are typically defined as any prescription stimulant that is used without a prescription to increase energy and concentration. Amphetamine is typically prescribed to manage attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Ritalin and Adderall are the two mostly commonly misused study drugs.
In addition to study drugs, some students may also use anti-anxiety medications like Xanax. If you choose to use study drugs, prescription medications or other substances, it’s important to know that many street and counterfeit drugs are laced with fentanyl.
Reflect on the reasons you may want to use study drugs. Think through the experiences you want to have, as well as those you’d rather avoid. Here are a couple examples:
As you think through the experiences you may want to have or avoid, consider if there are other 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.
Use with caution
Stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin are safer when prescribed by a physician, and can pose additional risks when taken without a prescription. They can also cause more unwanted experiences when mixed with other drugs or alcohol. For instance, stimulants can reduce a person’s awareness of the effects of alcohol, which may cause some to drink unsafe quantities.
It’s also important to know that any drug not purchased directly from a pharmacy may contain unknown substances, including fentanyl. This is because many counterfeit capsules and pressed pills are made to look like prescription medications. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), nearly half of all counterfeit pills tested contained a lethal dose of fentanyl.
If you choose to use study drugs without a prescription, here are some strategies to reduce your risks of harm:
Note: Possession of Ritalin or Adderall without a prescription and the sale of prescription drugs are a violation of the Student Code of Conduct and can result in criminal charges.
Know when to call for help
If you choose to use study drugs with or without a prescription, you may experience a number of unwanted side effects.
Here are a few side effects to watch for:
Restlessness, nervousness, anxiety
Headaches, dizziness, nausea
Impotence (sexual dysfunction)
Mood changes, swings
Call 911 if you or someone you know experiences any of the following:
Irregular heart beat, chest pain
Passed out, unresponsive
Blue/gray lips or fingertips
Use alternative strategies to study
When it’s crunch time, some may feel like study drugs can help extend their study sessions or maintain better focus. However, studies have shown that using study drugs without a prescription doesn’t enhance academic performance. While medications like Ritalin or Adderall may make some feel more alert, they may not improve test-taking or study skills.
The most effective way to improve your grade is to start early, give yourself plenty of time to study, get consistent sleep and take regular breaks. Here are a few tips as you prepare for finals:
It’s okay to ask for help
CU Boulder has a number of resources to help students prepare for finals. These are a great alternative to going it alone and can be more effective than using study drugs.