College pressure has many students turning to stimulants to gain a performance edge. At universities across the country, students are replacing cups of coffee with the ADHD drugs Adderall, Ritalin and other prescription stimulants, using the drugs as a study aid to increase alertness and concentration. A disturbing new study by researchers at the Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York indicates that many students may be misusing these drugs without taking time to consider the potential physical, mental and addictive consequences of their choices.

Study: 1 in 5 Misusing Stimulants

According to a press release by the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Nearly one in five students at an Ivy League college reported misusing a prescription stimulant while studying, and one-third of students did not view such misuse as cheating.”

Pediatricians report that some high school and college students have feigned ADHD symptoms to obtain stimulants. Some students who suffer from ADHD have also shared or sold their drugs to friends, compromising their own health. ADHD patients, students and parents need to be aware of the health consequences of medication misuse and the legal consequences of selling or giving away prescription drugs. The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging colleges, physicians and parents to address the issue with students.

Why Students Are Using

Students surveyed for the study said they used stimulants to help them stay alert to complete assignments or focus their attention during an exam. While a third of students surveyed said they didn’t consider using drugs to enhance academic performance cheating, 40% called it unethical. Some have compared it to athletes using steroids to gain a competitive advantage.

Misuse of prescription stimulants can cause headaches, dizziness, panic attacks and chest pains. When combined with alcohol or other drugs, dual diagnosis issues and serious health problems can result. The Transitions Recovery staff urges parents to talk to collegiates about the possible health, ethical and legal repercussions of stimulant misuse.