Study Drugs on Campus | 5 Tips to Reduce the Abuse


Study Drugs on Campus | 5 Tips to Reduce the Abuse


In 2018, it is projected that up to 35% of college and university students will abuse “study drugs,” more commonly known as prescription stimulants, this school year to get ahead in their academic efforts.

Study Drugs are prescription stimulants that are abused in order to increase energy and concentration. Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse are the most commonly abused.

Prescription stimulants, like those listed above, were developed to reduce the effects of those who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Students who suffer from ADHD often have difficulty concentrating and experience impulsive behaviors.


Those who haven’t been medically diagnosed with ADHD, or a disorder that these drugs benefit, often list academic pressures, energy fulfillment, and weight loss as the most common reasons for abusing these prescription drugs.

“In the general population, it tends to be more opioids, but as you can see on an academic college campus the stimulants really leapfrog ahead and become the most common prescription drug that is abused.”

Angela Janis

Director of Psychiatric Services at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Normalization and Consequences of “Study Drugs”

The normalization of selling, distributing, and abusing study drugs seems to be increasing at a rapid rate – students don’t even blink an eye when swapping stimulants with friends or classmates.

Those who sell or distribute these drugs don’t realize the severe consequences they risk – these exchanges can land them in court or in front of a school disciplinary board.

While those abusing study drugs don’t factor in any of the significant health issues that may come from ingesting any of these pills.

Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse are class II substances under the Controlled Substances Act, as is Cocaine. Selling or distributing any one of these drugs is considered a felony and can lead up to a five-million dollar fine or 20 years in prison.

Also, the possession of any of these drugs is illegal and is considered a misdemeanor – leading to two years in prison as well as up to a 2,500 dollar fine.

Study Drugs and Stimulant Abuse Behavior

5 Tips to Reduce the Abuse on Your Campus

Campus punishments can vary by campus, but often times can lead to a student’s suspension or expulsion from the college or university.

The health risks, which are often minimized, related to abusing “study drugs” can lead to death as non-prescribed students aren’t monitored or evaluated by a doctor – who can adjust or reduce the dosage. Common side effects associated with these drugs are insomnia, anxiety and depression, cardiac arrest, and hallucinations.

  • Educate students on the health and disciplinary risks, warning signs and consequences of abusing prescription stimulants.
  • Encourage students who are suffering from a prescription drug abuse problem to seek out help and offer resources on campus that can help them achieve that.
  • Train faculty and staff to identify students who are suffering from stimulant abuse.
  • Promote safe and healthy ways to study on campus, especially during exams
  • Implement and enforce campus-wide disciplinary actions for those who are selling or distributing prescription stimulants on campus, as well as those who are not prescribed and abusing them.

Above all, it’s important that a student fully understands the risk(s) he or she is taking when they sell, distribute or abuse prescription stimulants on campus. It’s critical that students comprehend that it’s illegal to be participating in these activities, as well as, unhealthy and unsafe.

For people who think they have a prescription drug abuse problem, please contact 1-800-662-HELP to find treatment resources.

How SafeColleges Can Help


The SafeColleges Training System includes several Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention courses, such as Prescription Addiction: Opioids, Prescription Addiction: Stimulants and Depressants, and Alcohol and Other Drugs. These courses can help with prevention and awareness efforts on your campus, specifically with substance abuse. Our reality-based and effective courses feature peer presenters, real-life student testimonials, and awareness and prevention strategies to help change student behaviors on your campus.



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