Trying to get an Easy A: 3 Myths about Study-Aid Drugs You & Your Student Should Know
It’s no secret that some young adults misuse prescription medications in order to study for a big exam or pull an all-nighter. But data compiled by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) indicates that study drugs are now more popular than ever, trailing marijuana for most consumed substance on college campuses. At the same time, conversations about prescription medication abuse among students occur infrequently and are often clouded with misinformation. As the spring semester begins, here are three myths about prescription drug abuse you and your student can review and debunk together.
- Using drugs to help you study will get you better grades. Many students who begin misusing prescription drugs do so for the explicit, short-term goal of acing a test or finishing a series of papers. The implicit assumption is clear: use study drugs, get better grades, do better in school overall. However, a study examining drug use among first-year college students found the opposite, “Past-year nonmedical use independently predicted lower college GPA by the end of the first year of college.” Study drugs aren’t really helping you ace that test; they’re setting you up for long-term failure.
- Occasional use of study drugs doesn’t really impact your overall health. Prescription medications abused by students to increase their ability to stay awake all night or complete time-intensive tasks like writing a paper in a short period of time are often a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. Both are typically prescribed to alleviate sleepiness and/or increase an individual’s ability to focus. But in addition to alertness and focus, students who abuse these kinds of prescription medications can also expect to feel nausea, vomiting and uncontrollable shaking. Long-term use of these substances may even result in changes in sex drive and weight. Most students who misuse prescriptions like these don’t realize they’re signing up for more than just an edge in alertness.
- Using study drugs is totally different than “harder” drugs. Even more than the immediate and long-term physical side effects associated with misuse of prescription drugs, it is incredibly easy to become dependent on and ultimately addicted to them. The risk of misuse and addiction is so great that the drugs’ page on Medline Plus, a project of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Mental Health, displays a special warning to discourage the drugs’ misuse in connection to its propensity for abuse. The risk is even greater when the drugs are consumed in ambiguous amounts and combinations, as is often the case in settings where casual use occurs. Make no mistake; illegally using a friend’s prescription medications is not that different than acquiring and abusing any other substance to alter your state of mind.
There are no short cuts to true learning. The physical side effects and risks of study drugs should be more than enough to deter even the most desperate of last-minute studiers. Study drugs don’t deliver the easy A’s they promise, and you can check our answer on that.