Is the misuse of ADHD medications on the rise at Queens?

An ADHD medication at Queens.  Some students say they take only a portion of the powder in a capsule.  Photo by Sarai Hayes.Sarai Hayes | The Queens Chronicle
An ADHD medication at Queens.  Some students say they take only a portion of the powder in a capsule.

Adderall and other Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) prescription medications are increasingly being consumed by students without a prescription.  Health officials say Queens is no exception.

A recent study conducted by the University of Utah summarized the issue on college campuses, revealing the fact that 10,000 students were sent to the emergency room as a result of stimulant misuse.  There were several deaths.

Jill Perry, director of the Queens student wellness center, said that awareness is the best option in terms of preventing the misuse of these drugs on college campuses.

“Not only do these stimulants cause high blood pressure, increase your heart rate and body temperature, but in large doses can cause stroke and even psychosis,” she said.

Students Speak Out

“I truly believe that most students are just misled by these perceptions that everyone is doing it, just like they are with alcohol, marijuana, and cigarettes,” Perry said. “The reality is that everyone is not doing it and the word desperately needs to get out.”

One student with a prescription for Vivance, another popular brand of ADHD medication, admits that she has been asked for pills. Perry said that not only is taking these pills without the prescription dangerous, but using someone else’s medication is a federal offense that is taken very seriously.

“These are the college years [of students aged 18-22] which means that this issue is here, on our small campus and campuses everywhere.  These young adults are getting these from their friends and classmates.”

“I also feel like it is an unfair advantage, much like steroids are to athletes.”

Perry said awareness does not only mean awareness of the dangers of medications that were not prescribed for a specific student, but also awareness to those students who do have prescriptions.

One student said she is unable to focus on even a couple assignments without the help of a pill. “I first used Adderall my sophomore year when I heard that it helped my suitemate pass her exam in her worst class,” she said.

Another student, a senior athlete at Queens, said, “although I do not hear it being used for anything other than a ‘grade enhancement,’ I have witnessed fellow classmates consume alcohol shortly after popping a few pills, which I already know is risky.”

The Horrible Truths:  Is There A Solution?

“Fifty percent of college students with a prescription admitted to having been offered money for their medication” says Perry, as she described the increased likelihood of the abuse of stimulants in the years between 18 and 22 years of age.

The Utah study reports that “up to 29% of students with ADHD prescriptions have been asked to give, sell, or trade their medication.”

Because students are being asked to supply friends, Perry says the students with legitimate prescriptions also need to become more aware of the dangers they could face legally, and think twice before helping put someone in danger.

Although students are not always too enthusiastic about admitting information like this to the administration, even anonymously, the Health and Wellness Center is planning to conduct an annual health survey on February 10, in hopes of obtaining local statistics on similar issues.

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Published by students of Queens University of Charlotte, 1900 Selwyn Avenue, Charlotte, N.C. 28274.