College Students Hooked on Prescription “Smart Drugs”
At colleges across America, students are becoming addicted to a popular prescription drug — not because they’re trying to get high, but because they hope to get smarter. The drug, Adderall, is normally prescribed for kids with attention deficit disorder. But some college kids are taking the medication because it helps them focus and pull all-nighters.
Parents accustomed to warning their kids about the dangers of alcohol and stimulants like cocaine may have been caught off guard by the growing prevalence of prescription medication use among college students trying score good grades. While Adderall is considered safe when taken as prescribed by a doctor, experts say it can be very addictive.
Struggling to keep up with schoolwork students gratefully took the “smart pills.” Within weeks they became addicted, buying several pills a day.
“You become dependent on it, because you’ll use it one night to study for a test like I did and the next thing you know, you’re using it every night to study for a test,” says one student.
Addiction isn’t the only possible fallout from “smart pills.” While they can help students focus for hours on end, they can get in the way of other cognitive skills.
“In some instances these types of drugs can hurt you,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “For example, when people want to do creative or imaginative things.”
The same drugs that can improve focus can inhibit flights of imagination, which may make it more difficult to write creatively, Volkow explained to Robach.