by Allie Rothenberg
What if you could boost your SAT scores or ace tomorrow’s test with just one pill? Because of the pressures in competitive academic environments, teens aren’t just abusing prescription medication for a quick high—they are using them to achieve higher grades and test scores.
According to an article in the Huffington Post, from 1998 to 2005, there was an 86 percent rise in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder medication prescriptions for children ages 10 to 19 years old. Consequently, in a study done by The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, 19 percent of teens have abused medication for ADHD such as Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta.
Teens turn to prescription drugs in particular because of their "easy accessibility. It’s as simple as raiding the medicine cabinet or buying them from a friend," said Health Teacher Ms. Susan Kolesar. These drugs cause people to become extremely focused and allow them to absorb a large amount of information. However, they are dangerous and sometimes lethal.
Since these drugs provide such an intense level of focus for the user, their abuse is widespread among students. An anonymous prescription drug abuser said, "[Concerta] keeps me focused, motivated and hyper…. Think if you didn’t get tired when you studied, or if you weren’t tempted to go on Facebook and during that test you remember all of those facts you studied at 3 a.m."
According to The Wall Street Journal, high school students reported a jump of up to 200 points in their overall SAT scores when under the influence of ADHD medication. SAT Tutor Michael Baker said, "I feel as if the meds...provide ultimately a safety net for these students."
The anonymous abuser said: "After taking Concerta, I get this high where I’m upbeat. I want to talk to people and just be happy. Once I come down from that, I kind of feel sedated and focused. I’m super motivated, constantly taking notes."
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, ADHD medications increase blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature as well as decrease sleep and appetite. All of these side effects can cause serious cardiovascular complications such as strokes and malnutrition.
Kolesar said, "[It’s] a false belief that using [prescription drugs] is safer than street drugs."
Think these pills are harmless now? Think again. Grab a coffee, crack open the text book and study the old-fashioned way.
Some sources were granted anonymity in the interest of privacy.