Most Common Types Of Study Drugs
The Study Drug
What was once a drug meant to be a short-term solution for sufferers of ADD (attention deficit disorder), ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder), and narcolepsy, has now become a medication abused by the masses for ‘educational’ and ‘brain-enhancing’ purposes. Being that these prescription drugs for studying have carved their own place within our society (most commonly among college students), it is important that we, as a community, understand the different types of study drugs, how they interact with the brain, and what dangerous side effects study drugs may have.
The Different Types Of Study Drugs
While we will certainly have a better understanding of how prevalent study drugs are in work and academic culture in the future, certain studies—like the 2014 study done in the US—conclude that some 20% of college students admit to using a study drug at least once in their academic careers.
Now, when you remove the word study and replace it with ‘brain-enhancing,’ study drug usage spills out into work culture, where coders, interns, aspiring lawyers, and anyone who needs to stay focused and process large swaths of information will take these ‘helpers’ to be the most they can intellectually.
In which case, what kind of stimulant drugs are they taking and what should you know about them?
How Do Study Drugs Affect The Brain?
Every study drug is going to interact with the brain in its own way. Typically, amphetamine-based stimulants (the generality for stimulant drugs) stimulate the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. As these neurotransmitter levels raise, the effects are a heightened sense of focus, higher energy, extended calmness, and bliss (the euphoria is due to the stimulation in the brain’s reward center).
These neurotransmitters live in the prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain responsible for executive functioning, which is why these increases in cognitive performance ensue. Essentially, these study drugs not only activate the parts of your brain responsible for your ‘intellectual effectiveness but they also work to nourish the reward center, which can produce happiness and even aid the mentally ill in their struggles with depression.
Lastly, this ‘hyper-drive’ gear it shifts the brain into then advertently affects the body. The heart rate increases, driving blood pressure upwards. The metabolism activates, breathing shortens, and your body begins to act as if it is experiencing a non-intensive form of exercise. Sweat can be a sign of this—as stimulants raise body temperature.
This is why, when taking a stimulant, a patient must be vetted to ensure they have no heart condition (or any condition) that could pose a threat to their health when using a stimulant.
How Do They Affect It Negatively?
The word amphetamine—found in most of the common ‘study-drugs,’ should be enough to raise an alarm. What the healthcare industry is selling here is a stimulant by definition and can interact with the brain in the same way as meth. This means, at their very worst, study-drugs can be triggers for psychosis (investigate links between schizophrenia and study drugs). Meaning those predisposed to this condition can take only one pill and trigger a mental illness otherwise dormant.
Beyond that, in a larger sense, study-drugs pose serious dependency problems. Not engineered for long-term use, the prolonged use of these medications alter brain chemistry. A brain ill-equipped to generate its own supply of dopamine will begin to rely on these medications as a crutch, treating the pill as the neurotransmitter itself, thus working less to generate its own supply. When the drug is removed, the patient can have a greater imbalance than before.
The medication then becomes a necessity for ‘normality’ rather than an aid to help a condition, as the patient reels beneath the pressure of extreme fatigue, depression, anxiety, a lack of appetite, and reduced cognitive function and awareness. It is in this threshold, this limbo between ‘need’ and ‘want’ that the demon of addiction can make its entrance.
Are Study Drugs Addictive?
There is a massive amount of work yet to be done regarding these performance-enhancing drugs and addiction. For one, Adderall and study drug addiction is not nearly addressed as say, opioids for instance. Rarely does it make its way into a headline—or if it does—it lurks in the shadow of the article which speaks on the string of overdose deaths related to painkillers.
Despite, studies prove that the effects of amphetamine-based medication and methylphenidate functions similarly to amphetamines (known as d-amphetamine) and cocaine. These smart drugs create tolerance and then showcase characteristic withdrawal symptoms like exhaustion, depression, altered moods, psychomotor retardation, irritability, disturbed sleep patterns, increased appetite, and so forth. If you ask science: any stimulant can produce addiction via its very nature.
Its effects on dopaminergic transmission lead to the same consequences. Thing is, being that it is taken orally, the administration poses less of a threat for addiction as say, cocaine. The road to addiction with street drugs can be a short and rapid one, while performance-enhancing drugs for studying may take years to have the same influence.
Still, over 100,000 patients entered rehab in 2016 for Adderall or Adderall-related addiction. Overdoses have occurred. And the drug can react to other substances and cause dangerous health effects.
As these prescription stimulants become evermore popular, the risk of their abuse increases. Being that Ritalin, the anchor medicine, was only introduced into American society in the 1990s, we cannot fully understand the long-term effects these ‘study drugs’ pose for users. What we know is this: by their nature, these smart drugs are stimulants and stimulants pose risks of overdose and addiction.
The more we continue down this road, the more common these drugs are going to become. It’s hard to say whether they are an evil waiting patiently to draw its blade or a miracle drug that will need better governing. Regardless, staying educated on the most common types of study drugs is more important now than ever before.