It is a concerning problem because of prescription drug’s widespread availability and little known negative side effects. Prescription drugs are being abused by many young adults and college students. This research paper will focus on the types of drugs abused, where these drugs are coming from and the reasons for abuse, and the dangers of unknown side effects of abuse. Many different prescription drugs are abused for academic purposes as well as recreational purposes. First let’s take a look at one of the most popular abused drugs, Adderall.
Adderall is by definition a prescription stimulant. It is composed of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. It is normally prescribed by doctors to patients who suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and people who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). To these patients, Adderall has a calming effect with an improvement in focus and can sustain attention for longer periods of time. Adderall comes is classified by two types, instantaneous release (IR) and extended release (XR). The first has a faster onset and is usually multiple doses are taken in a day.
Extended is released in time controlled amounts and is usually taken at the beginning of the day. Adderall is cousin to such drugs as speed and methamphetamines. To adolescents without either disorder, the drug has a stimulating effect on the nervous system. It seems to increase focus and alertness in the abuser. “There are no hard statistics on how many college students use Adderall. A University of Wisconsin study put the number at 20 percent. Our informal survey at colleges in this region suggests that some 25 percent of students have used Adderall at least once to study or to party. (Jaffe/Chip 42) Adderall is a schedule II drug, which defined by the DEA as “a category of drugs considered having a strong potential for abuse or addiction but that have legitimate medical use. ” Another commonly abused prescription pill is powerful painkillers, like Oxycodone (OxyCotin) and Vicodin. These types of medications are usually prescribed to patients with injuries of extensive pain or for patients to take post-surgery. “Nearly 15 percent of high school seniors admitted abusing painkillers like OxyContin, according to the 2009 "Monitoring the Future" survey conducted by the University of Michigan. This is a startling statistic, especially since 24% of high schools students also partake in episodic and binge drinking. What does this mean? Just because these pills can be found around the house, teenagers think that they can’t be that harmful for your body. When taken in large doses painkillers can create a euphoric “high” feeling in the abuser. These painkillers can come in liquid, tablet, capsule, and extended release form. These types of painkillers are derived from opioids, the same stuff that heroin is composed of. Because it shares some of the same properties as heroin, it is very addictive in nature, physically and emotionally.
Tolerance develops quickly to these drugs, which leads abusers to chase the same feeling as their first experience, often spiraling into full blown addiction. Now that we’ve covered what types of drugs are commonly abused by young adults and college students, how are these drugs obtained and why would adolescents want to abuse them? In the mind of a typical U. S. college student, drug abuse is not uncommon. There have been widespread coverage on binge drinking and alcohol abuse within college campuses, but what about prescription drug abuse?
Where are these pills coming from? College students diagnosed with ADHD are popular kids around any given campus. Most college students looking to score some Adderall usually obtain it through a friend or an acquaintance. Pills can range anywhere from 3 to 30 dollars a pill. Using Adderall is seen as a way to get an upper hand when it comes to academics. Students will pop a pill to study, take a test, and even for fun. In an age where procrastination is common, students will do anything to cut their learning curve of classroom curriculum and make up for poor time management.
Students report that when taking prescription stimulants they feel an increase in alertness and concentration. Students also report weight loss as a (sometimes desired) side effect. In the article “Got Any Smart Pills? ” authors Harry Jaffe and Alex Chip tell the story of a college student at Duke University named Kirk. Kirk was an average student who worked hard to get into Duke’s pre-medical program, but once he got there he found it hard to compete with the other students. Coupled with the party scene at the school, it’s no wonder his grades were sub-par. One day his frat brother picked up on his distress and offered him Adderall.
Kirk had never popped a pill for academic or recreational purposes, but after taking the drug and cramming 14 hours straight for a test with positive results, he made it a staple in his academic routine. His abuse slowly progressed as the semester went on. During finals week he took a total 200mg of Adderall over five days and during his fourth and final test, his heart began to beat faster than normal and his temperature hit 103. 5 degrees. After a trip to the hospital, he stopped abusing the prescription drug almost entirely. The rule of moderation applies to prescription drugs.
They have done wonders for the human race, but if taken in excess, they become harmful to the body, for example, increasing heart rate, altering senses and perceptions, and many other negative side effects. As well as being used as an academic stimulant, Adderall and prescription stimulants are used as a recreational drug, usually at much higher doses, to produce a mild “high” effect. Adderall is also commonly taken to purposely stay awake all night during the weekends to accompany long nights of drinking, a very dangerous combination. Painkillers like Oxycodone and Vicodin are abused solely for recreation.
When taken in high doses, the opiate-derived pills create a sensation of euphoria and relaxation. These prescription drugs are obtained very similar to Adderall, through friends with prescriptions. In the article “Problem Pill. ” Author John DiConsiglio tells the story of 18 year-old Chasey. Chasey started abusing OxyCotin at age 17 under the illusion that prescription drugs were safe to abuse; she became victim to its addictive grip. She used the drug to deal with her emotional pain. So why do many adolescents choose to abuse prescription drugs instead of other popular substances like alcohol and marijuana?
Experts believe “pill popping” is common because it’s hard to detect. Pills are odorless, abusers won’t stumble over words or slur their speech, and the pills are also easy to conceal and carry (DiConsiglio 2). Another speculated reason that this type of abuse is so popular is that kids think it’s safe just because it’s prescribed by a licensed doctor. This leads us to our final topic, what are the dangers and side effects of abuse? Different prescription drugs come with different risks. Let’s relate back to Kirk’s story. His heart rate increased beyond normal and his temperature rose to dangerous levels.
According to Scholastics Choices article “Prescription Stimulants”, “Abusing prescription stimulants can also result in increased blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature, as well as nausea, headaches, anxiety, psychosis, seizures, stroke, and heart failure. ” Although students know the risks of ingesting prescription stimulants like Adderall, many still choose to abuse them. Prescription drugs are very useful and helpful to us if we take them at recommended doses at scheduled times, however when young adults and college students abuse them they have little regard for dosage or a set schedule.
Another concern is combining these pills with other commonly abused substances. Alcohol consumption is often very prevalent on college campuses. When alcohol and prescription drugs are combined, they can have potentially fatal results. Mixing pills with different pills could also land you in the hospital. As I mentioned earlier, prescription medicines can become physically and mentally addictive similar to other drugs such as cocaine and heroin,. Tolerance to these drugs can increase rapidly, resulting in the abuser taking higher doses to achieve the same effect. Most prescription drugs come with a long list of negative side effects.
Some side effects of Adderall include increased heart rate, difficulty sleeping, vomiting, diarrhea, chest pains, dizziness and many more. A few side effects of Oxycotin include drowsiness, mood shifts, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, and many more. You can now see why prescription drugs are a growing problem in the U. S. Prescription drugs can be as dangerous as any drug. I’ve covered just what drugs are popular choices for abuse, the reasons why they are abused, and the dangers of abuse. Putting an end to adolescent abuse of prescription drugs is a difficult problem and the solution isn’t simple.
Awareness for prescription drug abuse is being raised and needs to continue being raised as the problem itself grows. All we can ask is that America doesn’t become a nation that runs off pills. Works cited DiConsiglio, John. "Generation Rx. " Scholastic Choices 25. 4 (2010): 8-11. OmniFile Full Text Select (H. W. Wilson). Web. 1 Mar. 2012. DiConsiglio, John. "Problem Pill. " Scholastic Choices 26. 4 (2011): 14-17. OmniFile Full Text Select (H. W. Wilson). Web. 16 Mar. 2012. Jaffe, Harry, and Alex Chip. "Got Any Smart Pills? " Washingtonian 41. 4 (2006): 41-47. OmniFile Full Text Select (H.
W. Wilson). Web. 1 Mar. 2012. Jardin, Bianca1, Alison1 Looby, and Mitch1 Earleywine. "Characteristics Of College Students With Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms Who Misuse Their Medications. " Journal Of American College Health 59. 5 (2011): 373-377. OmniFile Full Text Select (H. W. Wilson). Web. 1 Mar. 2012. "Prescription Stimulants. " Scholastic Choices 26. 6 (2011): 16-17. OmniFile Full Text Select (H. W. Wilson). Web. 1 Mar. 2012. Rasminsky, Abigail. "High And Mighty. " Dance Spirit 12. 7 (2008): 116-118. OmniFile Full Text Select (H. W. Wilson). Web. 1 Mar. 2012.