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Students need to know the risks associated with study drugs

The fall semester of college courses is just over halfway through, which means the stress levels can only increase from here. Many students in Fullerton seek mechanisms to cope with their burdensome workloads, but some choose a safer, more productive path than others.

Finding a study group, consulting with instructors and hunkering down in the library are some of the main strategies students can employ, but some students disregard this route in favor of a quicker solution. Students seek the assistance of prescription stimulants - or "study drugs" - as a means to improve their attention, alertness and energy levels during the peak work times such as midterms and finals.

While the appeal and use of these drugs continues to rise on campuses across the country, far too few students actually understand the legal and medical risks they take by abusing these substances for academic gain.

Health and safety risks

Approximately 1 in 5 college students report purchasing or otherwise obtaining prescription stimulants for use as a study performance enhancer at some point in their schooling. The most commonly used drugs include Adderall, Dexedrine, Concerta and Ritalin, all used for the treatment of either ADHD or narcolepsy.

For students who have prescriptions for these medications, more than 60 percent report that other students have asked to purchase or have purchased their medications. While these students have a medical need for the drugs, those they sell to use the medications without medical oversight, proper dosage or any consult with a doctor.

Not only does repeated use of these drugs without medical supervision come with safety risks, even a one-time use can have lasting or sometimes fatal effects. These prescription stimulants increase a person's heart rate, breathing, blood sugar and blood pressure while decreasing blood flow. At a high and repeated dosage, these effects can contribute to a high body temperature, seizures, an irregular heartbeat and potential heart failure.

Legal risks of study drugs

The purchase, sale and use of study drugs is a drug crime punishable by state and federal law, the same as any other drug crime of the same caliber. Students often don't realize the long-lasting risks they take when looking for a short-term solution to their academic concerns.

Drug crimes in California come with life-changing and harsh penalties. No matter how convenient it may seem at the time, using prescription stimulants as a study drug can impact your life much more than a poor performance on an exam. Consider the risks you take and the resources you would need after the fact if engaging in this kind of drug activity.

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