The growing competitive nature of colleges around the United States has contributed to the growing stress, unhappiness, and workload of students overall. With the rising culture of achievement that is propagated in college campuses, students feel the pressure more and more to excel. This often leads to long nights in the library, an overload of caffeine on days where little sleep was had, and hours spent studying on various subjects and classes.

The rise in demand of college students has resulted in the prominence of “study drugs”, medications that are claimed to increase productivity and supposedly help students get through their intensive and often overloaded schedules. The unprescribed usage of drugs like Ritalin and Adderall have become increasingly common, and the abuse of these drugs are beginning to become more and more a cause for alarm among college-age teens.

With a workload piling up and tasks that never seem to get done, the temptation to take unprescribed “study drugs” can be extremely tempting. With higher drug usage observed among higher ranked or more “elite” institutions, the proportion of usage continues to grow as the competitive nature of colleges becomes more and more prevalent. The estimation is currently hovering around the 30% range, the increase is rapid and to many health professionals, concerning. Adderall is the most commonly used stimulant, with almost 90% of students who use heightened concentration aids using Adderall as their drug of choice.

The normal dosage of Adderall is 2.5-60 milligrams, administered in one or multiple doses. Often delivered in a pill form, it often takes around 30 minutes to kick in and can last from 4-12 hours. Adderall has many side effects and can cause many other things to occur in your body other than a heightened concentration level, including restlessness, mood swings, excitability, loss of appetite, headache, fear, anxiety and more. However, the continued usage of Adderall without a medical prescription can lead to dependence and addiction to the drug fairly easily. As an effect of students taking Adderall to concentrate, the addiction rates for Adderall has risen greatly due to dependence that students develop on it. Doctors warn that even as prescribed it may cause undesirable health effects, leading to potentially dangerous health consequences when using it unprescribed.

The culture of college campuses is partly to blame for this phenomenon: when constantly surrounded by bright, hardworking students as many people are when they come to college, the environment and the pressure from family, peers, and mentors can sometimes seem crushing. In this way, it is the responsibility for both the student body and the universities to provide sufficient, healthy stress relief strategies and additionally creating a culture of not stress but of genuine love for learning, and learning that goes beyond the grade.

The mission is not simple, but more as something to strive toward. The culture of colleges will continue to grow as the education system changes. It is in the best interest of all of us to work toward an open, healthy and motivated community of students and professors.