HEALTH

Adderall use rising among college students

Decrease Increase Text size

(WJLA) - In college, it's not just coffee or Red Bull anymore. Students are using stimulants with or without a doctor's prescription to boost their grades.

Drugs such as Adderall treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. But an ongoing study from the University of Maryland shows students without ADHD think these pills help them focus too.

"It's definitely, definitely very prevalent, especially with the harder course work and the longer hours," said one student ABC7 spoke with. "Like you really have this drive like you need to succeed."

The study indicates that about 10.8 percent of students nationwide have used prescription stimulants in in nonmedical situations over the past year. 35.6 percent of students surveyed have used them at least once in their lifetimes.

Experts say that the prevalence of these drugs are extremely high as well. The study indicated that by their fourth year in college, 62 percent of students had been offered stimulants at least once.

Researcher and criminal justice expert Laura Dykstra says what's most surprising is that students share more often than they sell.

"The fact that it's being shared shows that students don't believe there's anything wrong with it," explained Dykstra.

Student Emily Rainey says that perception is accurate and she believes there's a real drug problem on college campuses. She uses prescribed Adderall to control ADHD. She says when her peers learn she has the pills, some urge her to share.

"I've been asked but I've never indulged them," said Rainey. "It's a performance enhancing drug. It's the same thing as in sports. It's steroids for your brain." 

Statistics from IMS Health, an agency that tracks prescription drug data, shows that several types of stimulants have steadily grown in sales since 2007.

Police say cracking down is incredibly difficult. ABC7 reached out to campus police at George Washington University and the University of Maryland. In the last year, both schools have opened fewer than ten cases of illegal Adderall possession.

"I think there are a lot of challenges to any sort of crack down or enforcement because it is a commonly prescribed substance," said Dykstra. "And there are a lot of people who legitimately need it."

Dykstra says students are worrying less about potential harm and she thinks this startling trend will not slow down.

"It's not that taboo," explained one student. "It's just like, hey got any?"

Recommended For You