The Negative Impacts of Non-Prescribed Study Drugs

Academic pressure causes many college students to begin taking non-prescription medication. With increased concentration, students can cram for hours on end with laser focus, but “study drugs” pose a serious risk to students’ physical and mental health.

Prescription stimulants designed to treat students with ADHD/ADD can have detrimental consequences when taken by anyone other than the intended patient. The increased risk of dependence and substance use disorder is enough to deter many, but others feel as if they are immune to the risk and they can quit whenever they want.

The College Study Drug Trend

Nearly every student who abuses study drugs acquires pills from their classmates; in a study, nearly 10 percent of students with ADHD/ADD who had an Adderall prescription were asked to sell their medication to a classmate or friend.

Students have noble intentions when they decide to use study drugs, but they could be causing greater problems for themselves in the long-run. For one, “cramming” has been proven to be an ineffective study method and ultimately does little more than cause sleep deprivation and increased levels of stress.

Second, relying on drugs to achieve academic success does not helps students develop the skills they need to thrive. Strong writing, reading and problem-solving abilities cannot be supplemented with pills.

By relying on study drugs to hack their brains and study more, students are taking the shortcut to hard work and diligence.


Some students who take Adderall to study find that it has another bonus: increased charisma. Those who suffer from social anxiety may begin to take the pills more frequently to ease feelings of discomfort and be more open during social situations.

For those who live on-campus, it’s vital to develop strong communication skills that lead to new friendships and a sense of closeness with peers. Students with social anxiety who struggle to open up or initiate contact unmedicated begin to rely on Adderall or another stimulant to treat their condition.

Unfortunately, this is only an illusion. Just like alcohol, Adderall and non-prescription drugs only make someone temporarily more relaxed. A social anxiety disorder must be addressed in therapy, and the only way to reduce symptoms is to gradually expose oneself to more social situations and build confidence.

Health Risks

In addition to psychological dependency, “smart drugs” also have physical side-effects. Increased heart rate, dizziness, shortness of breath, irritability and insomnia are all potential side-effects of stimulant use, and those who have pre-existing heart conditions are at a heightened risk of cardiovascular failure.

Greater education of risks can help students form healthier, more evidence-based opinions about the non-prescription use of Adderall and other study drugs. Educators must be aware of the risk posed to students, and adequate resources need to be established on campuses nationwide to ensure students understand the effects of study drugs and how to get help if they have developed a dependency.

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