Posted on Thu 11 May 2017 at 10:33 by Christopher Carter
We all know just how stressful student life can be – particularly in Term 3, with deadlines, exams and dissertation season looming large. In recent years, however, a particularly worrying phenomenon has been a rise in the use of so-called ‘study drugs’ among students. While you might think you are going to get a temporary advantage from the use of these substances, in actuality it could turn out to be a permanent setback.
It goes without saying that anything you take – whether that’s a study drug or an energy drink - has a significant effect on your body. However, if you are thinking of taking specific prescription medications without a prescription, you should really be asking yourself some serious questions:
“Do I know exactly what it is?”
Without clear knowledge of the origin of the medication you could be taking anything. Don’t just trust your friend who says that’s it’s ‘X’ substance - it might be something completely different, or could be contaminated with something that will do you serious harm.
Do I know exactly what it is going to do to me?
While you may be hoping for better concentration and more study hours, sometimes there can be side-effects you hadn’t bargained for.
For example, some of the side-effects of the amphetamine methylphenidate (Ritalin) can include: severe depression, suicidal thoughts; anorexia nervosa; psychosis; uncontrolled bipolar disorder; hyperthyroidism; cardiovascular disease (including heart failure, cardiomyopathy, severe hypertension, and arrhythmias), structural cardiac abnormalities; phaeochromocytoma; vasculitis; cerebrovascular disorders. Amphetamine psychosis is also not unusual. These side-effects vary from person to person – just because a substance affects others in a certain way, that doesn’t mean it will necessarily be the same for you.
Do I want to take an illegal drug and risk arrest?
If not prescribed, Ritalin is actually a Class B drug. Possession carries a maximum prison sentence of up to 5 years and/or a fine, and if you are caught giving it to your friends you could be convicted of supplying which carries a prison sentence of up to 14 years and/or a fine. Having a criminal record can also affect your ability to travel, as you may need to disclose it before you are allowed into a country such as the USA.
Here at the SU, we would always argue that the risks associated with so-called ‘study drugs’ far outweigh the potential benefits – and what may seem like a good idea in the short-term could have severe long-term consequences. There are many other ways to improve your productivity over the exam season, just a few of which can be found here:
If you need any further assistance on this issue, please don’t hesitate to contact the SU Advice Centre.