The final weeks of a semester can be a stressful time for college students. The pressure of writing term papers and cramming for exams can drive some young adults to turn to prescription drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
According to Binghamton University psychology professor David Werner, many students believe that the medications will help them stay focused and give them energy to study for longer periods of time. He told Pipe Dream, Binghamton's official newspaper, that the medications are beneficial for individuals who have ADHD, but are unlikely to aid those without the condition. He also noted that non-prescribed use of medications like Adderall and Ritalin could be dangerous.
"In particular, students can become dependent on them," Werner told the publication. "Moreover, from an education perspective it can often times be related to state-dependent learning […] This can have ramifications when they need to learn those materials but they're no longer in those settings."
According to a 2009 survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 6.4 percent of college students said that they had used study drugs for non-medical purposes. Other research has suggested that abuse levels are closer to 30 percent. Although not a direct indicator of illegal activity, a study performed at Brigham Young University found that mentions of study drugs spike during "crunch periods" like finals week.
Werner suggested that students who want to have success on exams should rest and exercise.