prescription-stimulantsThe abuse of prescription stimulants on college campuses across the country is a growing problem, a new survey indicates that almost one-fifth of college students abuse such drugs, HealthDay reports. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids sponsored the survey which involved more than 1,600 young adults, including approximately 1,000 college students, who answered an online questionnaire.

Ritalin, Adderall and Vyvanse, drugs meant to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), are the most commonly abused prescription stimulants. Students use stimulant medications to stay awake, allowing them to study for longer periods of time, the article notes. It is worth pointing out that students are not the only young adults abusing prescription stimulants, in fact, one in seven young adults ages 18 to 25 who aren’t in college say they abuse the drugs as well, typically to increase their work performance.

“The findings shed a new and surprising light on the young adult who is abusing prescription stimulants,” said Sean Clarkin, Director of Strategy and Program Management for the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. “While there is some ‘recreational’ abuse, the typical misuser is a male college student whose grade point average is only slightly lower than that of non-abusers, but who is juggling a very busy schedule that includes academics, work and an active social life.”

Clarkin believes that parents and educators need to increase their efforts in teaching young people how to develop effective time-management skills. The most common stimulant abusers are not academic slackers, but rather academic multi-taskers trying to balance their workload.

“Students need help in learning how to manage their busy lifestyles effectively,” Dr. Josh Hersh, Staff Psychiatrist at Miami University, said in a news release. “Learning time management strategies such as ‘block scheduling’ and ‘syllabus tracking’ can help prevent ‘cramming’ – the main reason people look to stimulants at whatever the price. In addition, teaching students with ADHD who are prescribed stimulants about how to properly care for their medication will help address misuse and prevent these drugs from getting into the hands of students who might abuse the meds.”

Many students are unaware just how dangerous prescription stimulants can be, in some cases resulting in temporary psychosis; in the worst cases, stimulants can have adverse effects on the heart which can have fatal results.

“The fact that students often use these drugs around deadlines, when their natural adrenaline is already high, elevates the risk even more,” Hersh said. “Sporadic use can lead to severe sleep deprivation and cause stimulant-induced psychosis, when a student gets paranoid and may hallucinate.”