Traditionally, amphetamines were considered the drug of choice primarily for truck drivers and third shifters trying to stay awake. Today, however, there is a new group of people using “speed,” American college students. Yes, amphetamine use is up among college students today. They use amphetamines to stay up all night studying, or they may use them to stay up partying.
Amphetamine Use is a Worsening Problem
Among young people overall, amphetamine use is quite limited, with less than three percent of the population under 25 admitting to having tried amphetamines. However, among college students in the same age group, usage nearly doubles to six percent. Amphetamines are one of the most addictive and potentially harmful physically and emotionally of all the major drug categories. Long-term addiction can lead to dramatic mental and physical deterioration that has given rise to the drug culture slogan, “Speed Kills.” So why are today’s college students becoming involved with such a high-risk substance?
The Pressure to Excel
Despite its debilitating effects, amphetamines have short-term positive benefits, such as an ability to stay awake longer in a high state of alertness. Students who have a lot of schoolwork or who are having trouble getting motivated often find that commonly prescribed amphetamine drugs such as Ritalin, Strattera, and Adderall help them focus on their work and escape the pressures of college life. Amphetamines often act as a mood elevator for those suffering from lethargy or depression.
Lack of Understanding
Although amphetamine use has become associated with better studying habits, the truth is that amphetamines undermine long-term memory retention and impair judgment. Neither characteristic can be said to enhance studying, yet students are seduced by the artificial energy and sense of well-being amphetamines produce into believing they are doing more work of higher quality than they are. Students are also often unaware of the risks of addiction posed by amphetamines until it’s too late.
Dealing with Amphetamine Abuse
The problem of student abuse of amphetamines is growing, with younger and younger students becoming involved. A USA Today survey showed that nearly a quarter of high school students were aware of amphetamines and their role in supposedly enhancing studying. Once addiction takes hold, there is almost no way to withdraw from the drug without outside intervention safely. Ideally, this would be done in an inpatient treatment program where both withdrawal and early recovery can be monitored by professionals trained in dealing with addiction.
Early Action is Best
Because amphetamine abuse can be extensively damaging to an individual in a relatively short period, early action to get an amphetamine user into treatment is of the utmost importance. The sooner such treatment begins, the less damage will be done and the better the chances for a complete recovery. Parents and schools can also help by warning students about the dangers of amphetamines before they leave for college. With the right education beforehand and access to professional treatment as soon as a problem develops, much can be done to reduce the frequency and harm of amphetamine use on campus.