Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

feeling fine

Stress of school leads some students to try 'academic doping'

As classes start and the promise of academic stress builds, more students are looking for something stronger than caffeine to keep them alert and focused. They are turning to stimulants intended to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

Academic doping, as the trend is known, has surged in the past two years, and the abuse potential has spiked among students, according to Frank Granett, author of Over Medicating Our Youth.

A recent study from the National Institutes of Health found that more than a third of college undergraduates reported illicit use of stimulants intended to treat ADHD. Most found the drugs reduce fatigue while increasing reading comprehension, interest, cognition and memory.

Though few students had information about the drugs, most could access them with ease, according to the report.

Illegal consumers of ADHD medication range from high school students cramming for the SAT and ACT exams to graduate school students pulling all-nighters for a thesis. But students who don't medically require these drugs could suffer from their long-term effects, experts say.

These narcotics, particularly Adderall, the stimulant of choice among students, are potent and addictive, and over time can lead to anxiety, depression and even suicide, said Granett, who has 26 years of experience as an ADHD expert and pharmacist.

Usually high-achieving students are the ones who abuse the medication, said Dr. Emily Forrest, a developmental behavioral pediatrician at Florida Hospital.

If abused, these controlled substances can cause a decrease in appetite, leading to weight loss, said Forrest. A high dose can lead to irritability. When taken back to back, the medication can start to decrease a student's concentration.

To prevent the medication from falling into the wrong hands, Forrest tells the parents of her patients to regulate the drug. She also advises college-bound patients not to tell friends they're on the stimulants.

Last year at the University of Central Florida, nearly 10 percent of students reported abusing ADHD medications, said Tom Hall, director of Wellness and Health Promotion Services at UCF.

"They see it as a way to make up a whole semester, and it isn't," said Hall.

In the past decade, Hall said he has seen abuse of ADHD medications increase only about 3 percent at UCF. A student found abusing a controlled substance, such as Adderall, violates the university's rule of conduct, and is subject to disciplinary action.

Taking ADHD stimulants to study applies to high school students as well, said Charlie DiGiorgio, owner of ProAcademic Solutions tutoring in Winter Park.

Since the SAT became more difficult in 2005, DiGiorgio said he has seen more pressure on high school juniors and seniors to improve their test scores so they can get accepted into top universities and their intended majors.

Students taking such drugs before testing don't necessarily improve their scores, DiGiorgio said. He sees a short-term energy and confidence boost, but after a few days that effect goes away.

Then, he said, "they're like walking zombies."

Stress of school leads some students to try 'academic doping' 08/21/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 6:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Observations from a liberal, gay, Latino, feminist Florida House freshman

    Blogs

    State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando,  rocked the Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus dinner at Tallahassee's Hotel Duval Satursday night with his unabashedly liberal and passionate take on the myriad issues he said are key to LGBTQ Floridians. Among them: Access to guns, Reproductive rights, home …

    Carlos G. Smith
  2. Delta Sigma Theta honors outgoing national president

    Human Interest

    During her four years as national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Paulette Walker said she always focused on the comma between "Sorority" and "Inc."

    Paulette Walker, the former director of undergraduate programs and internship in the College of Education at the University of South Florida, will be honored on Saturday for her leadership in the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
  3. 10 sailors missing, 5 hurt in collision of USS John S. McCain

    SEOUL —Ten U.S. Navy sailors are missing and five have been injured after the USS John S. McCain destroyer collided with an oil tanker near Singapore early Monday morning.

    In this Jan. 22, 2017, photo provided by U.S. Navy, the USS John S. McCain patrols in the South China Sea while supporting security efforts in the region. The guided-missile destroyer collided with a merchant ship on Monday, Aug. 21, in waters east of Singapore and the Straits of Malacca. Ten sailors were missing, and five were injured, the Navy said. [James Vazquez/U.S. Navy via AP]
  4. Pasco County Fire Rescue fighting a two-alarm fire started by an explosion

    Fire

    Two houses are on fire and one victim has been critically burned and taken to a trauma center following an explosion at a home at 8652 Velvet Dr, in Port Richey.

  5. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.