Study Enhancing Drugs: Good Idea or Bad?

The start of university season brings with it plenty of anxiety and stress for young people. Parents are equally stressed, wondering how students will get along being away from home for the first time. Running as an undercurrent through the fears of many parents is the question of whether or not their students will be using study-enhancing drugs to improve performance.

Unfortunately, these sorts of drugs have grown in prevalence at universities and colleges throughout Great Britain. Their rising popularity is partly due to the easy access students have to them by way of the local head shop and Internet sellers. Addiction Helper urges students to step back and seriously consider whether taking these drugs is a good idea or not. We do not think it is. We believe it can be just as destructive a choice as using illicit drugs or legal highs.

For the record, the most commonly taken study enhancing drugs are:

  • modafinil
  • adderall
  • ritalin
  • dexedrine
  • nootropil
  • ephedrine. 

Why Students Use Them

As a parent, you may not understand why your kids would consider using study-enhancing drugs. After all, taking drugs to improve performance is no way to go through life. However, kids see it differently. They take these drugs because doing so can make them more productive in school. Most of the drugs offer several common benefits students are looking for:

  • Extra Energy – Study drugs are mostly stimulants that provide the extra energy students need when studying for a major exam or attempting to complete a time-consuming paper. 
  • Alertness – Students may take study drugs just before beginning a stressful exam. The drugs will help them to be more alert so that they can perform better. 
  • Improved Cognition – A number of the popular study drugs have actually proven to increase cognition in the short term. These kinds of drugs are especially attractive when students are struggling to understand or retain material. 
  • Recreation – Unfortunately, there are students who take study drugs for recreational purposes. In other words, they will party hard with alcohol and other drugs, then use study drugs in the morning when it is time to attend classes. 

It’s safe to say that the majority of students taking study drugs do not see anything wrong with them. Unfortunately, there are some education professionals who advocate the use of these substances freely. Such individuals are exacerbating the problem by failing to identify drug use for what it really is.

Potential Dangers

The medical community agrees that some of the more popular study enhancing drugs are relatively harmless in terms of their physical and psychological effects. For example, modafinil and ritalin have very few associated side effects when used in moderation. However, that is not the case with all study drugs.

As an example, adderall is a very powerful psychostimulant with a high incidence of addiction. Ephedrine, while not tending to addiction, has proven deadly when not used properly. And dexedrine initiates withdrawal symptoms that can last for months if used chronically. Some of those withdrawal symptoms can be severe.

The other thing to consider about study drugs is the attitude that accompanies their use. While drugs like modafinil and ritalin may be largely harmless in and of themselves, the fact that a student may have no problem taking them could be an indicator that he or she is setting themselves up for later abuse of alcohol or more powerful drugs. We simply cannot ignore the attitudes that go along with study enhancing drugs. They are very real, troubling, and potentially harmful. Inform yourself about children and students with addictions in our student addiction guide.

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