Overheard On Campus: Is it okay to use a friend’s ADHD meds to help study for finals?

It’s finals time again and that means many students will be studying like crazy or pulling “all-nighters” to finish up projects and papers over the next couple weeks. Some students turn to their friends who have prescription medications for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) to get an added edge during this stressful time. Medications like Adderall and Ritalin, frequently called “study drugs”, are in high demand on college campuses during finals because students say they help them stay up late to cram for a test or keep them focused. This is isn’t anything new – countless studies and surveys have been done on college campuses over the last decade that show an increase in the amount of people using these drugs without a prescription.

Photo credit: Mystudentbody.com

We recently got a question from a student on our website about whether or not it’s okay to use their friend’s prescription medications to help with studying during finals. Here are some things for students to consider and administrators to share from one of advisory board members, Tavis Glassman, Ph.D.:

Photo credit: MyStudentBody.com

“The key to getting good grades involves attending class regularly, keeping up with the readings, and preparing for tests well ahead of time. Cramming and staying up late the night before an exam may hinder academic success. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) drugs are prescribed for people who have very serious problems concentrating to the point where they could not pass their course work without them. ADD and ADHD drugs also decrease the probability of experiencing unintentional injury, such as car accidents, among those clinically diagnosed with these disorders.

Persons who take prescription stimulants for ADD or ADHD without a prescription may experience adverse health consequences, especially if they have any underlying health issues or drug allergies. Also remember, drug experimentation for some leads to abuse. For example, certain students who use ADD/ADHD medicines start taking the drugs in greater dosages and with increasing frequency – a hallmark indicator of addiction. Remember the next test, paper, project is forthcoming, but you only have one body, nevermind the ethical considerations of giving yourself a potential, unfair advantage.

Check out these other resources for more information:

Of course taking someone else’s prescription drug is illegal, but it can seem pretty harmless when you know lots of people who have done it and they seem to be just fine. In general, there are always potential dangers associated with taking a medication that isn’t prescribed to you. When a physician writes a prescription, they will assess other medical conditions that could be negatively affected by the drug, or if the patient takes other medications that can interact poorly with the drug. If you take a medication without a prescription you run the risk of a problem.

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