College Students Illegally Using ADD / ADHD Medications on the Rise


The illegal use of medications that are commonly used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is on the rise among college students to increase academic performance.

A recent study performed by a group of pediatric researchers and presented at Pediatric Academic Societies yearly meeting, found that about one out of every five students in attendance at an Ivy League college has reported using prescriptions stimulants to get ahead in school.

Researchers, Dr. David Rabner of Duke University and Sean Esteban McCabe of the University of Michigan, note that the misuse of ADD/ADHD medications varies from campus to campus. They also state that the prevalence of students partaking in this behavior varies as well, with ranges fluctuating from nonexistent to 30% on some campuses.

Hana Rabin, a Tulane University sophomore, says “I think it is highly prevalent because so many people procrastinate and then need to study intensely in the end. It’s so widely used that in general it is socially accepted.” She is also admittedly a non-prescribed user of Adderall roughly once a month when she needs a to cram for tests or finals.

Andrew Adesman, the study’s senior investigator, has said that the lack of addressing the use of prescription stimulants like Adderal, Ritalin and Focalin, may be part of the issue. There are many programs designated to the abuse of illegal drugs and alcohol abuse, but zero policies for illegal stimulant use at some schools. Some medical researchers are comparing the use of these drugs to the use of steroids in athletes since they may enhance a student’s performance.

Both Wesleyan University and Duke University instituted bans on the illegal use of prescription medications for this purpose. The demand for Adderall and other drugs is still high according to The Chronicle, Duke University’s student run newspaper.

Students are becoming accustomed to using these stimulants regularly, which can make functioning without them fairly difficult, as University of Texas student Celine Halioua-Haubold has stated. She says, “They can become a study crutch. All the students I know who use them rely on them completely.”

The ease of accessibility and acceptance of the practice is suspected to hinder any attempts made by their administrations to put a stop to it with policies. One students refers to the availability of these stimulants as “a little less accessible than coffee.”

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