Student’s Prescription Drug Abuse has Competition
With Brain Boosting Stimulants
By Carmen Morrow, Chemical Health Specialist, District 423
There has been a shift in what type of student is abusing prescription and over the counter stimulants. Welcome to the students who are high achievers and want to gain an advantage on their competition. Movies like “Limitless” and “Lucy” have appeared to add an interest in the power of smart drugs.
In our society today, there appears to be a pill for almost everything. Adolescents and adults want a quick fix. A pill that will make us feel good, take away physical pain, emotional pain, numb our feelings, escape from the world’s pressures, and now even boost brain power.
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Prescription drug abuse is a serious global problem that has more than quadrupled since the 1999.” The NIDA states that when it comes to prescription drug abuse we often think of painkillers or opiates. While this statement is true that these are the most commonly abused prescription drugs causing serious addiction, we often forget about the stimulants. Usher in an age where we want to be alert, have extra energy, and outperform others around us. A world where academic success and long hours help you achieve goals: goals that will help you receive financial rewards or recognition.
An interesting fact according to Tom Ashbook from On Point is that “The United States has four percent of the world’s population, and produces 88 percent of the world’s legal stimulant drugs.” Commonly used stimulants are; caffeine, energy drinks, ADHD medication; Adderall, Ritalin and other brain enhancer pills like Addium and Modafuni. Most of these are easy to obtain or available if you ask the right people. Students can borrow from a friend, find a dealer or in some cases, order the drug online. Each drug has its own chemical characteristics and side effects which are unique to each user. The uncertainties of these mind-body reactions is frightening as they can cause serious health issues.
In the last few years, there has been a shift in what type of individuals use these stimulants and the reasons behind the use. Many would think of these students as the “good kid” or “high achieving.” However, the pressure to succeed at academics, ACT scores, or to be alert for online gaming sessions often causes our students to look for Adderall, Ritalin or a similar stimulant to keep them going for both academics and entertainment. The NIDA reports that “The drug Ritalin and Adderall, which is normally prescribed for students with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), is now often taken by college students wanting an edge on improving their focus, memory and mental energy. For those without the ADHD disorder, the drugs can be dangerous and have serious side effects. Their brains are still developing and taking stimulants can be dangerous to our brain functions, mental health and body. Insomnia is not a benefit but a side effect. Our brain needs adequate sleep to repair and rebuild, brain cells, what most students don’t realize is that addiction occurs with stimulants too. They are highly addictive and regular use leads to tolerance. Which means that, students need to take more to get the same results. These ADHD drugs are legal only if you have a doctor’s prescription. Obtaining these drugs illegally can have some serious consequences.”
Studies have repeatedly shown that smart drugs don’t actually boost your intelligence but they’re pretty good at making you think that you’re performing better.
You have only one brain. You can artificially stimulate it for perceived short-term benefits or you can nourish and protect it so that it stays sharp for a lifetime. A better choice would be for students to start the day with a moderate amount of their favorite brain-boosting beverage like coffee, tea, hot chocolate or a cappuccino and a breathing and mindfulness session for focus and energy. Students may want to choose these temporary mind-altering short cuts but they need adults to teach and model healthy life coping alternatives.