Many high school and college students in North Carolina are currently experiencing one of the most challenging parts of the fall semester: midterms. Exams, group projects, papers and other important assignments pile up at this point in the semester and many students feel the need to turn to additional resources to manage this demanding workload.

For most students, this means joining a study group, finding a tutor or seeking out the instructor for help and further clarification. These are all productive ways to handle academic stress, but unfortunately not all students stop here when seeking assistance during a stressful period in the semester.

Other students turn to prescription stimulants, also known as study drugs, to bolster their academic performance during midterms, finals and even just regularly throughout the school year. Doing so can have lasting negative impacts long beyond exam week, so it is important that students and parents understand the risks associated with using prescription drugs as study enhancements.

Medical risks of study drugs

The most common prescription stimulants students use as study drugs include Dexedrine, Adderall, Ritalin and Concerta, all used for the treatment of either ADHD or narcolepsy. The appeal of these drugs is that they increase attentiveness, alertness and energy levels which allows students to work in a more focused, energized way.

While these effects sound appealing, they come with a range of health impacts that can have long-lasting effects beyond when the medication wears off. For starters, using any prescription medication without a doctor’s administration and dosage is a major health risk. These stimulants increase a user’s heart rate, blood sugar, breathing and blood pressure while decreasing the flow of blood in the body.

Without proper medical monitoring and dosages, these medications can lead to an irregular heartbeat, seizures, too-high body temperature and even heart failure. A student taking these drugs without medical advisement could overdose on the medication or find themselves hooked on a drug and developing a pattern of abuse starting from a young age.

Legal risks and consequences

The illegal purchase, use or sale of prescription drugs is a crime punishable at the state or federal level. Students who have prescriptions for these medications often report pressure to sell the drugs and many end up doing so at some point. The risks associated with study drug use and sale have consequences that follow a person long after exam week. Consider the hefty medical and legal risks and understand your options if involved with this type of drug crime.