Prescription drug usage popular on campus

May 10, 2012


Prescription ADHD drugs have been the most commonly abused on college campuses, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health report. –Photo by Jessica Van Alstyne

Staff Reporter


The names of students have been omitted from this article to protect the confidentiality of their medical diagnoses and to protect them from legal and professional ramifications.


Whether to study for a test, party longer or suppress their appetite, some Tech students have abused amphetamine-based drugs prescribed for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).


According the National Survey on Drug Use and Health report, amphetamines are among the group of legally approved drugs classified as having the highest potential for dependence or abuse.


“Full-time college students aged 18 to 22 were twice as likely as their counterparts who were not full-time college students to have used Adderall [an amphetamine] non-medically in the past year,” according to the NSDUH report.


A sophomore photography major, who is diagnosed with ADHD, is prescribed to take 30 mg Adderall every morning.


She said she doesn’t take her medicine at night because she follows the recommended dosage.


“I do know a couple of girls I work with talk about taking Adderall at night to study,” she said.


Students from her high school would buy and sell the medicine a lot, she said, but in Ruston there’s a doctor that hands it out like candy.


The drug is abused, but it’s for people who need it. “Some people have asked me, ‘Hey, I hear you take Adderall. I want to buy one from you,’ but I always say no,” she said.


Tech Police Chief Randal Hermes said there aren’t many reports of prescription drug abuse because it is a peaceful transaction.


“It’s not like someone is saying, ‘Someone stole my computer,’ or ‘Someone stole my phone,’” he said. “There isn’t really a victim except society.”


Hermes said the least that would happen to someone caught with drugs not prescribed to them would be a referral to judicial affairs.


Someone caught could also be arrested and booked at the detention center, he said.


“Of course, they’ll also have a felony following them if they are booked, which will make it harder to get a job and cause problems with getting a firearm,” Hermes said.


According to Louisiana Revised Statute 40:967, a person caught with a controlled substance will be sentenced to prison for less than five years and may be sentenced to pay a fine of no more than $5,000.


The penalties for distributing these prescription drugs increase notably. A person caught distributing “shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment at hard labor for not less than two years nor more than 30 years; and may, in addition, be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than $50,000,” according to Louisiana Revised Statute 40:967.


A freshman marketing major diagnosed with ADHD said she takes a 50 mg Vyvanse pill every morning to start her day. Vyvanse, like Adderall, is prescribed to people suffering from attention deficit disorders.


“It helps me focus in my classes and gives me the need to be productive,” she said. “Without it I’m lazy, and I just want to sit in bed all day.”


She said one night she sold one of her pills for $5 to a friend who had the same test she did.


“At the time I wasn’t aware what I was doing was illegal,” she said. “I thought I was just helping a friend make good grades.”


Now aware she committed a felony, she said she wouldn’t consider doing it again.


“It keeps you up the entire night, and you lose a lot of sleep,” she said. “Crashing after a pill isn’t good for your body.”


Pam Moore, the director of the division of nursing, said people need to be careful when taking drugs that are not prescribed to them.


“They don’t always know what the side effects and allergic reactions are going to be or what the long-term effects are going to be,” she said.


Anything that is a stimulant could cause the blood pressure and the pulse to go up, Moore said.


It is a controlled substance, and people who are taking it have to have a check-up with their health care provider to get refills after 30 days.


“Interestingly enough, the intended effects for people with ADD and ADHD are what make the drugs work for them because they are stimulants,” she said. “When other people use them that don’t have ADD or ADHD they have a stimulant effect, which could make them feel like they could just go on forever.”


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