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01.25.2016

Combating the College Trend of Non-Medical Prescription Drug Use

college student prescription drugsAs a sign of our medication-oriented society, more teenager and college students today view prescription drugs as just a part of life. For years now young adults and teens have been sharing and abusing many types of prescription drugs, especially stimulants such as Ritalin, Adderall and Vyvanse.

According to The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), 9.6% of students in college have abused medication designed to treat ADHD symptoms. If that wasn’t alarming enough, social media has allowed teenagers and college students to document their drug use and post to different apps like Yeti Campus Stories.

Yeti Campus Stories is a social media site that bills itself as an NSFW version of Snapchat. This means that users can post any type of picture they want on the site without censorship. Not surprisingly, the pictures are mostly of out of control parties, drugs, underage drinking, sex and violence. Once these pictures are posted, anyone who is aware of the app can see them. Some experts are pointing towards this oversharing as one of the reasons why college kids are becoming more likely to self-medicate, especially with drugs like Adderall and Ritalin.

“At one time, college students most commonly misused drugs to get high. But today, students also use medications to self-medicate, to manage their lives. They are using drug to control pain, to go to sleep, to relieve anxiety, and to study,” explained Kenneth Hale, associate director of the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Recovery. It would appear that college students feel an intense amount of pressure to perform at high standard, and are willing to take drugs to achieve that standard. The fact that there are social media accounts that cater to this type of behavior only seem to compound the problem, as there is the additional pressure of trying to fit in mixed with other negative social influences.

The problem is certainly growing, but even the so-called “study drugs” don’t actually improve long-term performance. In fact, Amelia A. Arria, the director of the Center on Young Adult Health and Development at the University of Maryland School of Public Health stated that out of the 1,253 freshman college students that she interviewed, 21% of those that abuse prescription drugs skipped classes. This was more than twice the rate of students who didn’t use them. It has also been determined that those using the drugs have a lower GPA.

Overall the social climate and drug problem are heading for a collision course with disaster. It doesn’t take much digging to discover that real change must occur to be able to reverse this trend and to help save lives that will otherwise be lost as a result of the drug use.

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