The Abuse of Prescription Stimulants by College Students

The Abuse of Prescription Stimulants by College Students

Alongside abuse of alcohol and drugs, there is an increasing problem of prescription stimulant drug abuse among college students.  These drugs are legal and often easy to obtain.

Many students are reporting that they have used a prescribed stimulant to help improve their academic performance.  In fact, in a survey, 58% of students said that they knew their friends abused these drugs and around 28% said they had shared their prescribed stimulants.  52% of those students who had been legally prescribed these drugs had experienced peer pressure to share them with others.

As prescription stimulants have become more common they have created a culture where their use is normalized and this has led to the development of more cases of addiction and abuse.  Of students who had been prescribed stimulants 50% said they were using them to improve their academic achievement. Those who go on to abuse these drugs often feel that their use is justified by the results.  This self justification feeds the abuse of prescription stimulants by college students.

The wider problem is that college students are not being equipped to deal with stress without using drugs and therefore they are actually putting themselves at risk for the future, both physically and mentally, and are at higher risk of developing a problem with addiction.

The misuse of stimulants can be life-threatening.  Prescription drugs are designed to be used strictly following a doctor’s instruction and by the person for who it is prescribed.   The abuse of these stimulants can lead to:

  • Cardiovascular problems – high blood pressure, heart attack, raised heart rate, stroke
  • Breathing problems
  • Organ damage
  • Seizures
  • Death

Students who are already misusing medication often go on to indulge in other negative behavior like heavy drinking or the abuse of street drugs, tranquilizers and pain killers.  Over time drug misuse causes the user to become tolerant and need higher and higher doses to get the same effect.  Eventually, this can lead to dependency and addiction.

Why college students misuse medication

Students are often put under a lot of peer pressure to conform; if it seems that everyone is misusing drugs they may well consider it a normal part of college life.  Other reasons why prescription medications can be misused include:

  • Concerns about grades – looking for improvements in performance
  • Feelings of euphoria and a reduction in stress
  • Feeling less anxious when taking the drugs
  • They help avoid dealing with problems

One of the best ways to help someone avoid becoming addicted is to recognize the early signs and tackle the problem early on.  If someone can be seen using more and more of the medication and become unable to function without it there is a bigger problem to be addressed. One way is to provide opportunities for students to develop healthy coping strategies that do not involve relying on drugs or alcohol.

Education about the risk associated with the misuse of prescription drugs is vital; lack of information can leave students open to the risk factors that lead to abuse, dependency and addiction. Keeping a close eye on prescription drugs in the home can prevent or highlight an early problem before it develops.

If you have any concerns about your drug use or that of a loved one, please Contact Us at The Last House to discuss your options.

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