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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Running on Ritalin

    Finals’ week rolls around and brings the stress of exams, projects, and papers. Some students will function on cupfuls of coffee, while others will simply not be able to keep up. After all, the thought on every student’s mind is ‘too much work, too little time.’ Unfortunately, some students will turn to prescription stimulant drugs, prescribed or not. Drugs like Ritalin and Adderall are being used more than ever in colleges to gain an academic edge.

    Popularly known as jollies, bennies, and Vitamin R, the drugs give students a chance to catch up, or even get ahead. The drugs are actually prescribed to focus the overactive minds of those who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, students on campuses have begun using these to complete that last-minute paper in a few hours, or cram for a final exam in one day. Students may visit medical centers, or get the drugs from friends who have ADHD.

    A study conducted in January 2005 found that the use of prescription drugs for non-medical use has increased by 3% in the last year. The study surveyed 10,000 students from 119 four-year colleges. It is also concluded that the drugs are most commonly used in competitive college in the Northeast. Stony Brook has cause for worry. Previous studies have shown that students in fraternities and sororities, who tend to be wealthier than their peers, are more likely to use the both legal and illegal stimulants. The January 2005 study concluded that the common prescription drug abuser is white, male and a member of a fraternity. Sorority women users are also high on the chart.

    The reason stimulant drug abuse goes unnoticed is probably because so little is known about the drugs. According to Dr. Henry Wechsler, a professor of Human Development and Health at the Harvard School of Public Health, ‘much is known about the college study use of alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana and other illicit drugs, [but] we’ve not had a handle of the abuse of prescription drugs.’

    What students don’t realize is that anything that easy comes with a heavy price. Non-prescribed and uncontrolled use of these drugs could lead to a manic reaction or a seizure. When the drugs are taken, your heart rate speeds up and your blood pressure increases. The body thus goes into a fight-or-flight response. It decides to fight. But, this could lead to overstraining your heart and blood flow. If you are vulnerable to any other diseases, or are on another medication, stimulants could have negative side effects.

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