Although drugs like heroin and cocaine tend to grab flashier and more dramatic headlines in the media, arguably the biggest substance issue among young adults and college students is prescription medication. In fact, prescription stimulants are being more widely abused than ever across colleges and universities throughout the United States.
In hopes of getting to the core of the stimulant abuse problem, pharmacy and retail giant CVS conducted its own detailed survey among young adults. What they found will not only surprise you; it will give you a clear picture of how widespread this problem really is.
Who’s Abusing Stimulants?
Stimulants like Ritalin or Adderall are typically prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or certain sleep disorders. Many young people who abuse stimulants initially do so with good intentions. They’ve likely heard the stories…you know, the ones that say using these drugs can help students study round-the-clock and soak up exorbitant amounts of knowledge.
What those rumors don’t reveal, however, is the fact that prescription stimulants are highly addictive and can quickly cause life to take a downward spiral.
The CVS Findings
Once all the survey data was carefully evaluated, here’s what CVS was able to determine:
- Half of all the students surveyed in the CVS report said they took stimulants to assist with pulling an all-night study session or improving their academic performance.
- About 24 percent said they misused or abused these drugs to improve work performance at a job.
- One in five college students reported abusing prescription stimulants.
- About 56 percent of those surveyed said it’s easy to obtain prescription stimulants not intended for them.
- Among those who have a prescription, 52 percent said they had been pressured by friends into sharing or selling their medication
- Of the students with legitimate prescriptions, 28 percent admit to selling and/or sharing their pills
The Collegiate Response
Luckily, some colleges are taking steps to address this growing problem. Students prescribed stimulants at Marist College and Fresno State are now required to sign a contract saying that they promise not to share or misuse their pills. Even further, George Mason and William and Mary colleges have forbidden school clinicians from prescribing stimulants, instead choosing to refer students to off-campus providers.
Recognize the Problem and Get Proactive at Home
If you believe that your child might be abusing prescription stimulants, you’ll want to look for some of the classic warning signs. Those include things like a reduced amount of personal hygiene and overall self-care, a more aggressive and agitated demeanor and insomnia or extended wakefulness that can cause manic behavior.
Be sure to talk with your child about the dangers of these prescription stimulants and offer solutions to their potential academic issues, such as study groups or free tutoring services. Abusing these stimulants may provide short-term solutions in the classroom, but are very likely to cause long-term addiction issues.
Additional Reading: What Every Parent Needs to Know About Adderall Addiction
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