Some College Students Are Abusing Prescription Drugs To Make The Grade

At the time, a recent college graduate we'll call "Stephanie", didn't think she was doing anything wrong. However, each year she went back to college, she also went back to using drugs.

Stephanie: "I used Adderall. When I took it to study, I would just stay at the library for hours, until I had everything done and I knew everything front to back."

Adderall is actually a stimulant. It was approved in 1996 to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

But, Stephanie was never diagnosed with ADHD. She got the Adderall from a friend.

Dr. Drew Pinsky, an addiction specialist, says Stephanie is not alone.

Dr. Drew Pinsky: "This is an attractive drug to the college age set because the barrier is so low to use. Think about it. Many of their peers have been on it their whole lives- didn't hurt them, helps them study, why not?"

Stephanie: "It was pretty easy for me to get it through people I knew who took it."

It was easy for Stephanie to get because in 2001 alone, prescriptions for drugs like Adderall increased 15%.

In a recent statement, Shire Pharmaceuticals, the makers of Adderall, said that: "Ultimately, parents, patients and school personnel are necessary partners with physicians and Shire in ensuring that Adderall and Adderall XRr are used appropriately in patients diagnosed with ADHD."

Without a doctor's supervision, ensuring that you're taking the right dose is tough, and that may put you at risk for serious side effects.

Dr. Drew Pinsky:  "What we would see for people using high doses is the same thing we would see with other amphetamines- which is brain damage: chronic memory disturbances and chronic depressions."

Other side effects can include high blood pressure, insomnia, heart arrhythmias, and stroke, and possibly addiction despite the risks though, Stephanie has no regrets.

"Stephanie": "For people like myself who get distracted easily I would recommend it, but not for everybody."

Now that Stephanie she has recently graduated, she has no plans to use the drug in the future.