“Study Drugs” Popular Among Florida College Students, Despite School Bans

“Study drugs” such as Vyvanse and Adderall are gaining popularity among Florida college students, even though area colleges have a zero-tolerance policy against students using medicines not prescribed for them.

CBS Miami reports these drugs are easy to obtain and abuse. Vyvanse and Adderall are used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The drugs increase focus and concentration, and help students stay up all night to study.

“It’s a stimulant at the end of the day. It increases heart rate, loss of appetite. It’s the exact same symptoms when people use a substance such as cocaine,” said Dr. Michelle Gonzalez of the Coral Gables Counseling Center. She said it’s common for teens and adults to mix these drugs with other substances, like Red Bull, or even addictive drugs such as cocaine. These dangerous combinations can send users to the hospital, she said.

According to a report in 2013 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the number of emergency department visits related to nonmedical use of central nervous system (CNS) stimulants, including Vyvanse and Adderall, among adults aged 18 to 34 increased from 5,605 in 2005 to 22,949 in 2011. The number of emergency department visits involving CNS stimulants and alcohol also increased. About 30 percent of emergency department visits involving nonmedical CNS stimulant use also involve alcohol.

SAMHSA notes that nonmedical use of these drugs has been linked to heart and blood vessel problems, as well as to drug abuse or dependence. “When combined with alcohol, CNS stimulants can hide the effects of being drunk and increase the risk of alcohol poisoning or alcohol-related injuries,” the report noted.

The University of Miami handbook states, “The possession, use, or sale of the following is prohibited: unprescribed use of prescription medications and inappropriate use of legally obtained over the counter medications.” Florida International University and Nova Southeastern University both have a zero-tolerance policy for study drugs, according to CBS Miami.

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