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Stress turns some college students to study drugs

There is a lot riding on getting good grades in college. Add to this the sheer workload of having multiple classes -- with mandatory papers, projects and tests -- and it's no wonder so many college students are completely stressed out. Walk around a campus and you can feel the stress, as students rush from class to class to class, just trying to get it all done, just trying to stay on top of everything at once.

Grades matter too. No one wants to get an F on a paper or completely fail a test. Not only is there the embarrassment and frustration that comes with poor grades, there is also the risk of not earning credits -- and if grades hit a certain low point -- being put on academic suspension. Students with scholarships often have the added stress of also needing to keep a certain grade point average.

To try and combat this, some students decide to do anything they can -- even taking someone else's attention deficit hyperactivity disorder prescription, like Adderall or Ritalin, in an attempt to stay awake to study or write papers. Others think these "study drugs" help them focus better.

Sharing or taking un-prescribed medication is against the law

As a parent, you might worry that your son or daughter is taking these drugs. Or, like many others, you may be completely in the dark and just assume this is not the case. But know that not only are these prescriptions very popular among college students, but that taking these drugs is illegal and could have detrimental effects to your son or daughter's health.

If your son or daughter is the one prescribed these medications -- and is offering or selling them to other college students -- know this is absolutely against the law too.

In both scenarios, your son or daughter could wind up facing criminal charges.

Study drugs quite common on college campuses

The use of study drugs on college campuses is more prevalent than most people realize.

According to the National Center for Health Research, a study of more than 10,000 students found that more than half of those with legitimate prescriptions for an ADHD medication were asked by other students or friends if they would be willing to sell them.

In terms of how many students are taking these medications, surveys range greatly -- especially depending on the size of the college, with the low being 7 percent and the high being 33 percent.

Whether on the high end of the spectrum or the low end, the findings are the same: There are college students who are abusing medications.

Many of these students are taking these medications for perceived academic purposes. Others admit to taking the drugs for social reasons -- reporting feeling more talkative -- or to see if they will catch a buzz from them. Some students also report taking the medications in an attempt to lose weight.

ADHD medications not safe for all

Criminal consequences aside, there are also health risks to taking a medication your doctor has not prescribed. For students who are diagnosed with ADHD, their doctor has assessed their medical history and medical information before prescribing Adderall, Ritalin or a similar type of drug. The doctor believes the drug will be safe for this particular student to take. This is extremely important, as these drugs can cause serious complications if given to the wrong person.

As a parent, it's important to talk with your children about the use of study drugs -- or not sharing their prescriptions. This can help protect not only their health and well-being, but also their future.

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