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Study Drugs

If you’re overwhelmed and feeling stressed by the pressure to perform, there are safer, more effective solutions than taking medication that hasn’t been prescribed to you.


Addies, Study Drugs, the Smart Drug

What is it?

Adderall is the trade name for a prescription stimulant (amphetamine) used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

When prescribed and taken correctly, under medical supervision, prescription stimulants can help treat a few health conditions. In addition to ADHD, they can be used to treat narcolepsy and occasionally depression. In treating ADHD, stimulants help regulate and normalize the dopamine and norepinephrine function in the brain, so a patient with this condition can focus better and pay more attention.1

Other brand-name prescription stimulants include Adderall, Ritalin, Dexedrine, and Benzedrine.

The Risks

These drugs require a prescription for a reason. When abused they can become dangerous, and in some circumstances, even deadly. Effects include increased blood pressure and heart rate, and at high doses, stimulants can cause irregular heartbeat, dangerously high body temperatures and the potential for seizures or heart failure.

Combining with alcohol can make for an especially dangerous mix. Stimulants mask the alcohol’s depressant effects, increasing the risk for alcohol overdose or poisoning.1

Long-Term Effects

Stimulants can be addictive. The more you take, the easier it is to get hooked. Taking high doses of some stimulants repeatedly over a short time can lead to feelings of hostility or paranoia. There is also the potential for cardiovascular failure (heart attack) or lethal seizures.1

The Bottom Line

Some people mistakenly believe that prescription stimulants can help them focus and perform better in school, whether or not they’ve been diagnosed with ADHD. Multiple studies show this isn’t the case; in fact nonmedical use of prescription stimulants has been linked to lower GPAs among college students.2

If you haven’t been diagnosed with a condition that requires taking these drugs, and aren’t taking them under a doctor’s supervision, stimulant abuse can lead to dangerous side effects. If you’re overwhelmed by the pressure to perform well in school, there are more effective solutions.


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Prescription Drugs: Abuse and Addiction.
    Retrieved July 2011.
    View Source
  2. Prescription Stimulants and Analgesics: Associations with Social and Academic Behaviors among College Students
    Retrieved March 2016.
    View Source