Study Drugs: Their Usage, Effects, and Alternatives


Between part-time jobs, endless classes, and filling out applications for killer summer internships, most college students rarely have time to study. Many are expert procrastinators who put things off until the last minute. When exam time comes, they resort to using study drugs to enhance their focus and productivity. For some students, the temptation to take a quick fix to power through increases when the workload becomes endless.

In today’s world, the solution to most problems comes in the form of a pill. Students find it easy to take study drugs when they get overwhelmed by college life. Some pop Ritalin the night before a tough exam while others take Adderall to stay focused. You may be thinking “So many students I know rely on study drugs to get through finals week. What could be wrong with them?” There are always risks involved when a drug is misused and not taken under the supervision of a physician. Even if a drug helps you to function better in your daily life, it can still have serious side effects.

What Are Study Drugs?

These are prescription stimulants like Ritalin, Vyvanse, and Adderall which are used improperly to increase mental focus when studying. They are also referred to as “smart drugs” or “cognitive enhancers”. These drugs are commonly prescribed for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) patients and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD) patients. When used without a prescription, however, they can be dangerous. But despite the risks, 1 in 5 college students use study drugs to get a short-term energy boost to plow through the dreaded all-nighters. A study conducted by the University of Maryland back in 2005 showed that after alcohol and marijuana, Adderall is the most readily available drug in college campuses. Students think that smart drugs are better than street drugs but this is far from the truth. The drugs are highly addictive and have effects similar to street drugs.

In many colleges, there is no black market for smart drugs because they are easily accessible. Students obtain them in two ways: by getting prescriptions or by making friends with students who have prescriptions.

Do Study Drugs Boost Memory?

Some studies have shown that cognitive enhancers provide users with beneficial results so it is no wonder that college students turn to them for a temporary mental boost. They improve concentration, memory, focus, and general cognition. The tunnel-like focus the prescription drugs provide has caused many young adults to fake symptoms in order to get steady prescriptions. However, when misused, they have devastating consequences. Their short-term benefits come with their fair share of risks.

Stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall give patients increased concentration. When used properly, they can help patients to overcome attention disabilities like ADHD and ADD. For patients, these drugs have a soothing effect because they increase the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. It is believed that ADD and ADHD sufferers lack sufficient dopamine and norepinephrine. When people who don’t suffer from these mental conditions take study drugs, they experience restlessness and euphoria because they already have adequate dopamine.

Students who take prescription stimulants have a tunnel-like vision. They are not distracted by anything and can read for hours without logging in to social media sites. They feel more interested in the study material and feel like they understand everything on a deeper level. But the major downside of such great focus is the loss of creativity. Cognitive enhancers make you feel like you are wasting time if you aren’t doing any work. Interestingly, experts say that smart drugs don’t turn people into geniuses overnight. They don’t make people brighter than they are.

What Are the Effects of Abusing Smart Drugs?

Prescription stimulants have short-term and long-term side effects. Students who misuse these drugs may suffer from sleep difficulties, headaches, restlessness, irritability, nervousness, loss of appetite, change in sex drive, and feelings of depression. Those who use the drugs to study have higher chances of crashing once the drugs wear off. This crash leads to depression and exhaustion as the body’s dopamine and energy supplies are depleted.

Cognitive enhancers also have negative effects like insomnia, nervousness, high blood pressure, and increased heart rate. Even if the drugs are used only once, the negative effects can materialize. To make matters worse, some students mix cognitive enhancers with other drugs or alcohol. This combination can be lethal. When mixed with antidepressants used to treat anxiety disorders, eating disorders, or depression, smart drugs can produce very unpleasant effects. In the long term, routine users may develop physical and psychological dependence on the drugs and find it hard to function optimally without them.

Besides experiencing negative side effects, a student who abuses study drugs can face grave legal consequences like jail time, fines, or get suspended from school. These drugs can also increase one’s chances of committing a crime. Misusing prescription drugs is illegal, whether or not you have a prescription.

Healthier Alternatives to Study Drugs

Prescription stimulants don’t have to be the solution for a student’s stressful life. There are other healthier options that can be used to increase attention, memory, and focus. Please read the articles on this website and consider our recommendations. Many are the times students wish they could remember things they learned in class, but to no avail. Some products, like Limidax, can help make a difference.

Students can also try stress-beating strategies like eating balanced diets, getting enough sleep, limiting caffeine intake, and setting aside time each day to relax and reflect. They can also take up relaxation techniques like Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing.

Without a doubt, enhanced brain power is alluring. However, there are always risks and complications involved with study drugs. Procrastination is unavoidable at times, but there are better methods of getting an energy boost that do not involve prescription drugs or any other drugs.

Relevant Research Sources:

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