The competitive academic environment of many college campuses can drive some students to use prescription stimulants like Adderall or Ritalin in order to gain an edge over their classmates. These medications have been shown to help people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but there is little evidence to suggest that the drugs provide any benefit to someone without ADHD. The medications can, however, pose health risks, according to a study published in the Journal of Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology.
Researchers from the University of Rhode Island (URI) performed a systematic review of over 100 studies about the misuse of prescription stimulants and found that between five and 35 percent of college students without ADHD were taking the drugs.
In a university press release, the study's principal investigator, URI psychology professor Lisa Weyandâ€‹, said that she found no evidence to suggest that stimulant use improves academic performance. According to her, abusing the drugs may, in fact, be detrimental to academics as they can cause their users to over-fixate on one part of an assignment and ignore the rest.
Weyand was more concerned, however, about the health of the students abusing these medications. Stimulants can increase blood pressure, posing a potentially fatal risk to anyone with an underlying heart problem, she said.
"They also cause a decrease in appetite and difficulty sleeping, and I'm concerned that students are taking these medications without being monitored by a physician," Weyand added. "In addition to the potential health risks, they're doing it all without evidence that it's truly enhancing their cognitive abilities or improving their academic performance. The risks outweigh the benefits."
If you've noticed that your college-aged son or daughter has too much energy or is too focused on an assignment, you may want to investigate further. Contact Intervention Services today to learn how a family drug intervention can help your child.