Prescription drug abuse among college students is not news, but people may not be realizing the full problem.
The brain is still developing when we enter (and exit) college. You don’t know how the use of a foreign substance is going to affect how your brain grows.
You want to stay up late to study, so you get some Adderall from a friend. After a couple days of that you cannot fall asleep and stay asleep, so you get Ambien from another friend. The anxiety of trying to get good grades while finding a good party to study balance leads you to ask another friend for some Xanax.
Odds are you will really like at least one of those prescription drugs enough to keep taking them without any real medical need.
Maybe you become addicted to Xanax because you have always struggled with anxiety. Maybe you try Vicodin and you love the painkilling effects. Or maybe you feel lethargic pretty often, so Adderall really gives you the jolt you always needed to be social and to write good papers.
It doesn’t really matter which drug you feel most connected to, your brain is forever affected by prescription drug abuse while you’re a college student.
College is supposed to be the best years of your life, some say. Do you want to spend it addicted to a bunch of chemicals? What about when your prescription drug abuse reaches the point of addiction and you have to leave college for rehab?
What can we all do to reduce prescription drug abuse among college students?
Does knowing that your brain chemistry is forever altered make a difference? I think when we’re young we believe we are invincible. “I’m only taking Adderall when I have to pull an all-nighter.” “I only take Xanax when I’m stressed about school.” “I only party when I don’t have class (early) the next day.” “I don’t have a problem. I just use prescription drugs when I need them.”
It makes sense that kids don’t think prescription drug abuse among college students is a real problem. It’s unfortunate that it’s just not true though. “Just” using Adderall for an all-night study session once a week, or “just” using Xanax to relieve school-related stress a few times a month, or “just” partying with any number of substances (probably mixed with alcohol) on the weekends is a problem.
Will Adderall abuse really change the grade you’ll get on that final exam? Will Xanax abuse really alleviate your anxiety in the long-run? Will experimenting with Vicodin or Codeine really relieve pain or make you more chill to be around?
Give it some thought before you pop another pill, or crush and snort a prescription written for someone else. Think about your health and long-term well-being.