Study drugs or “smart drugs” are exceedingly popular among people in school. Doctors prescribe medications like Adderall and Ritalin to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); however, people without ADHD engage in nonmedical use of prescription stimulants to boost their academic performance. The practice of nonmedical Adderall use, for example, is known as pharmacological cognitive enhancement (PCE). When people take stimulants, they hope to increase their powers of memory or concentration. While using drugs to gin up cognitive performance may help in some cases, the behavior can quickly lead to dependence and addiction.
Attempting to get a cognitive edge in school is understandable considering the daunting academic requirements placed upon young people today. The competition for placement in institutions of higher learning is fierce; it is fair to say that teens and young adults have to go above and beyond in ways unheard of just a couple decades ago. It isn’t enough anymore to just go to class and get straight A’s; one must also involve him or herself in myriad extracurricular activities and volunteer vast sums of their time. Even still, doing all the right things doesn’t guarantee placement.
It is quite easy for young people to get their hands on prescription stimulants without the help of a doctor. Classmates are all too willing to share with or sell their drugs to other students; evinced by the fact that the number of Americans reporting nonmedical stimulant use is on the rise.
Adderall and PCE in America and Beyond
Research published in the International Journal of Drug Policy looks into the results of the Global Drug Survey—an annual, anonymous online questionnaire about drug use worldwide. Zeroing in on the use of prescription stimulants, researchers found that 14% reported using stimulants at least once in 2017, up from 5% in 2015. In the United States, nearly 30% of American respondents admitted using drugs for PCE in 2017, up from 20% in 2015. The U.S. has the highest rates of nonmedical stimulant use; however, the practice has become more common in Europe of late.
US-style practices in ADHD treatment are occurring in Europe, The Scientific American reports. Stimulants are more available than ever which has led to a dramatic rise in people seeking pharmacological cognitive enhancement. In fact, the survey indicates that use in France rose from 3% in 2015 to 16% in 2017; and in the UK: from 5% to 23%.
“The increased diagnoses of ADHD and their prescription drug use is creating a substantial population of young pharmacologically medicated persons whose underlying problems may very likely be located in their social world,” says Steven Rose, a neuroscientist at the Open University in Milton Keynes, UK.
Stimulant Use Disorder
Given that there is not much evidence to support PCE via prescription stimulant, people using such drugs should strongly reconsider. Misusing amphetamines can severely complicate one’s life and lead to a host of problems. Each year, we treat a significant number of people at Synergy Group Services presenting for stimulant use disorder. If your use of Adderall or Ritalin has made your life unmanageable, Synergy can help you break the cycle of addiction and begin a journey of recovery. Please contact us today.
Towards the end of 2017, The New York Times published an article which reveals some alarming opioid statistics. While most people understand that painkillers and heroin affect people from several walks of life and practically every age group, it’s likely that a significant number of individuals are unaware that opioids are also affecting young adults in college. Just because people can get into prestigious schools, doesn’t mean that they are going to make wise decisions. Prescription opioid misuse falls under such a category.
In fact, between 2001 to 2014, data indicates a six-fold increase in opioid use disorder among people under age 25. In roughly the same timeframe, opioid overdose deaths pretty much doubled for the age group. The 2016 Monitoring the Future survey of college students reveals that 7% misused opioids and the number of Blue Cross Blue Shield opioid-related claims has nearly increased twofold in almost a decade.
The author of College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Education (2015), Ryan Craig wrote an op-ed recently appearing in Forbes which displays some interesting observations about opioid use disorder and college students. After speaking with experts, like Dr. Andrew Kolodny, co-director of Opioid Policy Research at Brandeis and others working in the field of addiction, he lays out a pretty concerning picture of prescription drugs use at universities across the country.
Schools Must Confront Opioids
Craig points out that while most colleges have naloxone on campus for use in the event of an overdose, he says that schools are falling short in addressing the underlying issues. He presents “four fundamental elements of college campuses make them suboptimal environments for those struggling with opioids:”
- An anything-goes approach to alcohol and drugs;
- high pressure;
- lack of structure;
- they’re in this environment for at least four years.
Despite the fact that a number of 4-year schools offer students the option of living in sober dorms and some even provide counseling services, Craig believes that such programs don’t go far enough. The author says college programs for people in recovery don’t treat addiction and students spend the majority of their time outside the specialty dorms; he has concluded that if universities are serious about assisting people living with addiction, they must expand their sober programs to include:
- Medical treatment under medical supervision.
- Separation from other students and much more structure – tapering off as students demonstrate success.
- Offer off-ramps leading to good jobs, so students don’t need to spend four years in order to get a win. Most parents of young adults struggling with opioids would trade anything for a clean, employed child; a degree is the least of their concerns. Then provide on-ramps back to degree programs for students who are prepared for the next challenge.
Opioid Use Disorder Treatment
If you are a college student misusing prescription opioids or heroin, Synergy Group Services can assist you in finding recovery. Please contact Synergy today to discuss making recovery a part of your life. We understand that education is of vital importance to you and your family, treatment will provide you with the skills for completing higher education unhindered by drugs and alcohol.