Turns Out Abusing ADHD Meds Won’t Get You on the Dean’s List

Prescription stimulants are the wrong answer if you're looking to raise your GPA.
Prescription stimulants are the wrong answer if you're looking to raise your GPA.

Lindsay felt overwhelmed. With three finals and a term-paper deadline looming in her near future, she didn’t know how she would survive, much less get good grades. She decided she needed a boost.

She asked around until she found someone willing to spot her a few Adderall pills, a mediation meant to treat ADHD. With this “help” in hand, she was sure she had just what she needed to pull off good grades for the semester.

Turns out Lindsay’s confidence was sorely misplaced.

Don’t Expect a Passing Grade

With many college students turning to prescription stimulants for study assistance, researchers decided to find out if this practice actually helps. Their question: Does non-medical use of prescription stimulants (NPS) really provide the energy, stamina, or clarity needed to raise grades?

Researchers examined students who did not engage in NPS, students who did engage in NPS, students who started then stopped NPS, and students who abstained then started NPS. After studying these four groups, they reached a fairly clear conclusion: prescription stimulant use without a doctor’s prescription does not make for better grades.

In fact, previous research shows that college students who practice NPS have lower overall GPAs. They also skip more classes and are more likely to use other substances.

Not much of a “study drug,” now is it?

How Do We Get the Message Out?

These researchers have demonstrated that NPS likely provides no academic benefits. These results should prompt several actions:

  • First, college students should be informed of this reality. School administrators, advisors and parents should educate students about the truth. They can implement programs to debunk the myth that NPS is helpful.

    Since 57 percent of college students who engage in NPS get the drugs from a friend, students must realize they are only putting their friends at risk by sharing or selling their medication. There are legal and physical consequences. It’s not going to help them with their grades. It will only hurt them.

  • Second, students should be made aware of the dangers. While there are no obvious benefits to NPS, there are plenty of drawbacks. Educational and intervention efforts should emphasize the mental, emotional, and physical health risks, including abuse and overdose.

  • Third, physicians who prescribe ADHD medications have to get on board. Researchers say doctors must make it clear that selling these medications is illegal, as is using drugs that are not prescribed to you. They can also help educate students about the physical dangers of stimulant misuse.

Currently, a whopping 56 percent of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 say “it’s easy to obtain prescription stimulants without a prescription.” With numbers like that, it’s important people know the truth about these so called “study drugs.”

If you or someone you know is abusing prescription stimulants in hopes of boosting your grades, chances are they’ll have the opposite effect. Hit the books the old fashioned way – without risking your health.


Image Source: iStock

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