The Vermont Cynic

Students turning to drugs to excel in school


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Have you ever found yourself panicking that you have yet to study for an exam or write your paper, due in only a few hours?

If so, you’re certainly not alone. But what happens when you feel like the only option is to use “smart drugs” to get it all done?

Across the U.S., college students are turning toward the use of these drugs in order to overcome their overwhelming loads of coursework.

“Smart” drugs are nonprescription drugs, including ADHD medications and the new “nootropics” defined as “cognitive enhancers,” according to an April 13 Vice article.

According to the University of Utah Health Care, medications like Adderall are intended to reduce attention and behavior problems in those with ADHD.

When these drugs are abused by individuals who do not need the prescription, they stimulate the brain and body, temporarily increasing the ability to concentrate and reducing the need for sleep.

The negative side effects include increased blood pressure and heart rate, as well as a decreased appetite and potential depression, especially in high doses. This abuse of the medication that others rely on to improve cognitive function fosters a stigma that reduces the seriousness of ADHD.

On the contrary, nootropics improve memory, creativity, the process of thinking and are not addictive. They act similarly to supplements, since they do not possess the same regulations of other pharmaceutical drugs, such as Adderall.

However, they do not come without negative side effects, especially with long term use.  Long-term use and increased dosage causes the brain to become reliant on these high doses in order to think and process information clearly, while simultaneously causing headaches and sleep problems, according to the Mental Health Daily Blog.

After personally surveying students on campus, a small portion of students who chose to comment either knew someone or they themselves had used and relied on these drugs to help in critical times of cramming.

My finding was the majority of students I approached for comment were reluctant to clarify whether they themselves or someone they knew used smart drugs at least once during their time in school, providing insight on how “under the rug” this issue is.

This indicates there are individuals across campus using nonprescription drugs to try and get ahead in school and they are either ashamed of it or are aware of the negative consequences both legally and physically, and wish to remain silent.

Perhaps the overall problem isn’t solely the drug abuse on the rise across college campuses, but the standards placed on students to overachieve and overwork to the point where health is no longer a priority.

We are only human, and it appears this issue is much larger than just the mere use of nonprescription drugs to get ahead.

It is a  much more complex one that requires critical thought and discussion about the fact that even students aware of  the consequences are choosing to neglect their health in order to achieve and impress their peers, professors and parents.

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Students turning to drugs to excel in school