School can be a stressful time. Tests, quizzes, and assignments may feel like a crushing weight on a young person’s shoulders. Study drugs are sometimes seen as an easy fix. According to the Pennsylvania Youth Survey, 10% of Lebanon County 12th graders have tried a prescription stimulant without a doctor’s order.

Could your loved one be at risk? Read more to find out what you should know before having that difficult conversation.

Jane is a high school student. She just returned to school from Thanksgiving break and is bombarded with tests, quizzes, and projects, all due before her holiday break. Jane also plays a sport and is active in several clubs. Between meetings and practices, Jane doesn’t see how she can get it all done.

Does that sound like something that could happen to your student?

Now consider this. . . Her friend, Megan, notices how stressed she is and offers her some medication that she was prescribed. Jane hesitates, but Megan insists that the pills will help her stay focused on studying and getting her work done. Jane takes the pills from Megan and tries them at home later that night. She can’t believe how much she gets done and how sharp her focus is.

Study drugs are prescription stimulants, like Adderall and Ritalin, which are being inappropriately used to increase mental focus and productivity for the purpose of studying. Also known as “smart drugs,” they are commonly prescribed to individuals with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

While using study drugs may be tempting when work is looming, the side effects are too extreme to ignore.  Study drugs are referred to as stimulants because they stimulate the central nervous system. When a person takes a stimulant, their brain releases an excess of natural chemicals that elevate mood, alertness and motor activity.

But study drugs can have negative consequences:

  • Stomach pain
  • Headaches
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Tics
  • Restlessness
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Addiction

If you think your child is using a study drug or may be tempted by one, talk to them! Use these tips:

  • Remain calm when talking to your loved one.
  • Express concern for them and go over the details of study drugs such as what they are and the side effects.
  • Empathize with the stress they’re going through and give them tools to cope such as tutoring, reward systems, or counseling.

Whether you want to help prevent drug abuse or need guidance on treatment for your child, you are not alone. For help planning this important conversation, call us at (717) 299-2831. We are here Monday through Friday, 9 am – 5 pm to help you.