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Is There a Study Drug Crisis Among U.S. Students?

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For a high school or college student struggling to maintain a good GPA, a pill that helps them focus or stay awake for an all-night study session may seem like a magical solution. That’s why the misuse of so-called “study drugs” such as Adderall is increasingly becoming a problem among American students.

Adderall, a blend of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, is a commonly prescribed stimulant for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Because ADHD has become the most frequently diagnosed mental health issue among young adults, the production of drugs such as Adderall spiked dramatically in the U.S. As a result, these stimulants are widely available on high school and college campuses, which has increased the likelihood of students taking prescription medications improperly.

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The Risk of Stimulant Abuse

Adderall and similar stimulant drugs are designed to make the body release hormones like dopamine that lead to increased mental acuity and sharpness. Students who are under pressure to do well on an exam or assignment may begin abusing these study drugs because they believe they need a performance boost. However, while these drugs can be safe and beneficial to use under the care of a qualified physician, students who take these stimulants without a prescription can quickly become addicted. Alarmingly, many students do not realize how harmful it can be to take amphetamines for nonmedical reasons.

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How to Spot Whether Your Child Is Abusing Study Drugs

Abuse of prescription stimulants is a growing health crisis in the U.S. Mental health experts classify taking these drugs without a prescription or medical need as abuse – which has become increasingly common among high school and college students.

If you suspect your child is abusing study drugs such as Adderall, the most obvious warning sign is a change in behavior or mood, including the following symptoms:

  • Increased energy levels
  • Rapid-fire speech
  • Euphoria
  • Irritability
  • Delusions or paranoia
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep

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If you or a loved one is facing issues with prescription drug abuse, you don’t have to go it alone. Guardian Recovery is here to help you by providing a world-class approach to recovery. Our thoughtfully designed service continuum takes a holistic view to treating both substance-based and non-substance-based disorders and addictions. When you’re ready to take the first step in your recovery journey, contact us any time, 24/7.


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.


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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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