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Study drugs don't make college students smarter

Woman smiling at the camera.Maybe you’ve procrastinated on work or school assignments and it left you feeling stressed and overwhelmed. For some students, they might find they want a little extra help to focus and may turn to “study drugs” in order to study and get assignments done.

One in five college students admits to misusing study drugs such as Adderall or Ritalin, according to SAMHSA. Although often used to “improve academic performance,” misuse of study drugs can have the opposite effect. 

“Study drugs” are prescription stimulants such as Adderall or Ritalin that are misused in an effort to enhance focus and improve academic performance. 

However, a CDC study found that those who misuse prescription drugs are actually more likely to receive lower grades and have worse academic performance. Misusing prescription medication can lead to dependency and cause anxiety, an irregular heartbeat and more (SAMHSA). 

A lack of good study habits cannot be replaced by misusing focus-enhancing medications. It's important to find study techniques that work for you in order to have the best chance for academic success. Ways you can improve study habits is by:

  • Setting small academic goals to accomplish each day, so you don't procrastinate assignments.
  • Using a planner to organize your daily or weekly schedule.
  • Finding a study space that you enjoy working at.
  • Limiting distractions like phones, TV or loud music.

Many people may know someone who has sold or given away their medication or a friend who has bought these medications. Perhaps you have engaged in buying or selling these medications. Remember, sharing prescription medication is illegal for both the person sharing or selling and the person receiving the prescription medication. 

Rather than turning to drugs to help you cope with academic stressors, Your Life Iowa (YLI) encourages you to choose healthy coping habits, including:

  • Regular exercise
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Spend time with supportive friends or family members
  • Spend time doing a hobby or activity you enjoy

If you are concerned or have questions about mental health or substance use, YLI can help. Reach out today to speak to a caring, non-judgmental counselor for free.

Mixing Stimulant Drugs and Alcohol

Studies indicate that the stimulant drug Adderall is commonly used simultaneously with alcohol on college campuses; of students who misuse Adderall, 69% also have “extreme drinking habits.” 

When you mix stimulant drugs and alcohol it reduces the effects of the medication and dulls the effects of the alcohol, making it much easier to overdose on either the drug or alcohol (CDC). Mixing stimulant prescriptions can also lead to a higher risk for heart problems and liver damage, and can actually impair attention and focus (NIAAA). When mixing stimulants and alcohol on a regular basis, it also becomes extremely easy to develop polysubstance abuse, which is when you develop an addiction to multiple substances.

If you are prescribed these medications be sure to check with your doctor before consuming alcohol and to take only your prescribed amount.

Reach Out for Support

College students often have a lot on their plate. Sometimes, the academic and social pressures can feel overwhelming. If you find yourself (or someone) you know misusing stimulant drugs to keep up with life, help is available. You can contact YLI for free, trusted support 24/7, 365 days a year. Call (855) 581-8111 or text (855) 895-9398 to connect with a trained counselor.