With the fall semester starting, students will feel pressured to perform well. Students that want to get high grades might seek out study drugs, like Adderall, in order to maintain focus during studying and test-taking. This article discusses how these stimulants are dangerous and addictive and offers healthier alternatives to better prepare for the upcoming semester.

Navigating the Pressures of School

College is by no means easy. If you have a full class schedule, you might find yourself cramming for the next test or midterm, which could make all the difference in passing your classes with high marks. You may be assigned hours of homework assignments that seem impossible to complete. That’s not including the time needed to socialize, attend internships, and even work part-time jobs. You might feel like it’s impossible to balance it all.

With all of these added pressures, students may feel inclined to purchase their colleague’s prescription medications as study aids. However, misusing someone else’s prescription comes with its own set of consequences.

The Dangers of Study Drugs

The most common study drugs are often prescription stimulants like Adderall, Ritalin, and Dexedrine. Normally, these drugs are prescribed for ADHD to help enhance concentration and focus. Stimulants are known to increase attention, alertness, and energy. Caffeine, for example, is a very popular stimulant that is used for the same purpose.

Prescription stimulants release surplus dopamine in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter that is released in your brain that is responsible for facilitating feelings of pleasure. It’s also referred to as a “reward” chemical. When you do something that brings you pleasure, your brain releases dopamine. Your brain will remember the flood of dopamine caused by the specific activity or behavior and will motivate you to seek out that behavior repeatedly in the future.

Addictive Potential

Stimulants are highly addictive because of their effect on dopamine. Once you’ve taken Adderall, especially a larger dose than necessary, your body starts craving that feeling. Those who take Adderall even as prescribed can build a tolerance for them. Since those who misuse stimulants do not take them as prescribed, the effects can be far worse.

The use of stimulants without the discretion of a doctor can lead to dangerous side effects like high blood pressure and increased heart rate, which could potentially lead to heart failure and seizures. It’s also possible to overdose on stimulants. Overdosing can lead to convulsions, coma, and even fatal poisoning.

Coping With Stress as a Student

Fortunately, there are many ways that students can cope with high-pressure environments and taxing assignments. Here are a few examples of healthy coping mechanisms:

Get Enough Sleep

When you have a busy schedule, especially as a student, it’s easy to put sleep at the bottom of your list. Students are known for their overnighters, cramming in one last late-night study session, or working overtime to finish a difficult assignment. It’s not worth it to lose your sleep over your grades. Sleep is especially important because it helps your brain process and store information. A lack of sleep can also negatively impact your mood and make you more prone to stress.

Eat Healthy Food

You may have heard of the “freshmen 15,” when a student gains weight during their first semester in school. This tends to be because their diet changes when they’re away from home. Freshmen and upperclassmen can also lose too much weight, or maintain the same weight, but lose valuable nutrition when they don’t eat a balanced diet. Eating well will help you perform better in school. You’ll have more energy, an easier time focusing, and overall, a better mood.

Take Plenty of Breaks

You might feel like you don’t have time between everything to take breaks, or you might feel guilty taking a break when you have so much on your plate. Breaks are very important, especially during something as demanding as college. If you’re worried about wasting your time, you can still make your break productive. Take 30 minutes to practice yoga, meditate, take a nap, do something creative, or go for a walk.

Study With a Friend

Spending time with a friend can not only allow you to remain social, even when you feel you don’t have the time but also can take the pressure off by having physical and mental support next to you while you work. You’ll feel less stressed out because you’re in this together. You can study with a friend in your class or even a friend that has different classes. Even having another person next to you while you work on your project can make it more bearable.

Talk to Someone if You Feel Overwhelmed

Colleges often have counselors and other mental health professionals who can help you if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Even if you don’t plan on dropping a class, just talking to someone about your feelings can take the pressure off. If possible, schedule an appointment with your professor and talk about how you’re feeling in their class. Professors often offer hours where they meet up with students. If you’re having a hard time with the material, your professor could give you additional guidance.

School can be extremely stressful. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and look for solutions. Still, stimulants aren’t the answer to your school semester. The use of these study aids can increase your vulnerability to several health consequences, including the development of addiction. Instead, recognize how valuable it can be to let a friend, family member, or staff member know about how this semester has been making you feel. Bella Monte Recovery Center is a treatment center for individuals seeking healing from substance use and underlying or co-occurring mental health disorders. We offer a range of programs and services to help individualize our client care. If you or a loved one begins to struggle with substance use during college, know that help is available and recovery is possible. To learn more about our facility, give us a call today at (800) 974-1938.