All Posts Tagged With: "ritalin"
Up to 11 per cent of students may take brain boosting meds
Doctors should think twice about prescribing drugs like Ritalin and Adderall used to treat attention deficit disorder to healthy individuals seeking to boost their brain power, says an article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
The authors say prescription stimulants are used by some people for cognitive enhancement in the absence of any medical need.
“These would be any types of medications that would help people enhance their concentration, memory, cognitive function in general, when they don’t necessarily have any type of symptom or illness to be treated with these medications,” said lead author Cynthia Forlini, a PhD candidate in neuroethics at McGill University.
“So we’re talking about healthy individuals who are approaching their doctors for some kind of an edge in their performance,” she said Monday from Montreal.
Trump is mad, pot is legal & U. Manitoba’s “racialized rep.”
1. Barack Obama got a second chance, winning the presidency for another four years with 50 per cent of the popular vote to Mitt Romney’s 48 per cent plus victory in battleground states like Ohio. From Obama’s victory speech: “Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come.” Full text here.
2. Upon hearing the election results, Donald Trump threw a tantrum on Twitter and threatened to “March on Washington,” the site of this democratic “travesty.”
3. Washington and Colorado passed ballot initiatives during Tuesday’s election that legalize marijuana for recreational use. But pot-heads shouldn’t pack their bags for Denver or Seattle just yet. Legalization may lead to a Supreme Court challenge from the federal government.
More students using drugs to enhance academic performance
A story in the National Post suggests that illicit drug use to enhance their performance on exams and academic demands is on the rise among university students across Canada.
The article cites a random survey done at McGill University, which revealed that 5.4 per cent of 400 students had used a “study drug” to enhance their academic performance at least once. However, some estimates of drug use to increase student performance are even higher. According to the Post, “study drugs” are slowly becoming “entrenched on campuses” across Canada.
But do they actually work? Do the drugs help increase student performance on tests and assignments?
“It was definitely extremely helpful. I’ve never focused like that before in my life,” said a first-year student at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. “I was able to sit in a chair for eight hours, concentrate on the work, brainstorm more effectively.”
Another student quoted in the article claims the use of drugs to improve academic performance is wide-spread among numerous schools, including the University of Toronto and Wilfrid Laurier in Waterloo, Ontario.
The student claims the drugs come from other students who have a prescription for some of the commonly used drugs, including Adderall and Ritalin. A psychiatrist at the University of Toronto said that an estimated one in four of his university patients admit to sharing some of their prescription drugs to friends.
“I think it’s becoming a bigger difficulty in universities, particularly around entry to professional schools,” said Dr. Jain. “This is something that needs to be addressed, both in terms of university policy and in terms of physicians prescribing . . . These are not innocuous medications.”
Prescription-drug dependencies can have severe consequences later in life
Are the demands of medical school wearing some Quebec students out? Apparently so, and they’re using Ritalin to help them get through, according to a CBC story earlier this week.
The story quotes a few anonymous students from the University of Sherbrooke who say they take the drug without a prescription because exams are too tiring for them to concentrate on studying further. The practice is common, they say.
But school officials don’t seem to be all that concerned about the practice amongst their students.
“It’s not that dangerous to take Ritalin, and it’s not my concern. My concern would be if it proves that there is a real problem with Ritalin, which we’re not sure yet, because we don’t know how many [are taking it], if some are taking [it], the real concern is how to learn to deal with stress in a healthy way,” Pierre Cossette, Sherbrooke’s dean of medicine, told the CBC.
Okay, fair, dealing with stress in a healthy way is advisable, but what about the fact that a culture of drug dependency is developing at the University of Sherbrooke among people who don’t need to be taking Ritalin? The stress of being a doctor is not going to stop once the MD is in hand, so what’s the plan for educating responsible doctors?
Ritalin has documented effects that give people the ability to study longer, focus harder and more efficiently manipulate information in their minds. But this is a prescription drug. This is not like drinking a cup of coffee to help you stay up or popping an Advil to take away a headache. This is a regulated drug that also has documented long-term effects.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as well as their respective Canadian regulatory bodies, have issued strong cautions in the past 10 years that long-term use of ADHD drugs can cause dopamine imbalances—resulting in depression issues—heart problems and even cancer.
If students become dependent on drugs like Ritalin for their grades or, later in life, job performance, there are serious risks that await them in the long term. Students that are willing to venture down this path are taking a short cut that will prevent them from learning to perform without the help of dangerous drugs. That is inadvisable.
Perhaps the university should be looking at proactively adding healthy stress management lessons to their curriculum so they’re not sending new doctors out into the world who don’t know how to handle life when things get rough.
Related content: To drug or not to drug and Brain candy: can ritalin turn you into an A student?
Students are using Adderall and Ritalin to help with studying. But are they safe?
In the most recent issue of the New York Times Magazine, Walter Kirn is taking a hard look at student use of attention deficit disorder medications like Adderall and Ritalin to help boost academic performance. He’s in a good position to critique them, he says, because he took Adderall back in the 80s.
The psychiatrist who prescribed the drug predicted they would enhance his concentration and give him a new competitive edge — as long as he used it properly.
“What I wished for back then — a modest, short-term boost that would yield sustainable long-term gains — is what so many of us want right now, particularly, I would think, worried college students who find themselves stumbling back to school in a season of grim, uncertain prospects,” writes Kirn.
“Adderall, I discovered during the courtship phase of what became our deeply tortured relationship, offers a kind of assistance to the brain that feels just right, at first, for the age of multitasking…It seemed to allow me to do three things at once and not completely fail at two of them. Far more important, however, it helped me do one thing at once and focus on it.”
According to some estimates, Kirn says up to a quarter of undergraduate students at some colleges or universities are using stimulants to help them “get the grades that will get them the jobs that will get them the insurance that will get them the medications to do the jobs.” And although the drug helped him through a hard time in his life, Kirn had to give them up when his mouth filled with sores and he started getting hemorrhoids from long bouts of sitting.
Are these drugs being used in Canada? According to this OnCampus story from a few months ago, they certainly are, and they’ve been around for awhile. Ten years ago, McGill University’s director of mental health services told the Montreal Gazette he believed that five to 10 per cent of the university’s students were using Ritalin to help them study.
Plus, Canadian students in search of the drugs likely have little difficulty getting their hands on them. They can buy them over the Internet, ask a friend or classmate with a prescription to give them the pills, or get their own prescription. According to the health care consultancy IMS Canada, more than 1.3 million Ritalin prescriptions were handed out in Canada in 2008, a seven-fold increase since 1992.
Thousands of students are using the drug illegally—but are they on to something?
To improve their chances of being accepted into university, students rely on a variety of tactics. Some do charity work. Some play on sports teams. Some turn to tutors or learning centres. Dale Jones tried a different approach: he took drugs.
Dale (not his real name) was in Grade 12 at the time, and he wanted to go to university. But the Calgary, Alta. native was struggling in school. He was bored and wasn’t applying himself. Looking for ways to raise his grades and ensure university admission, Dale discovered Ritalin—a prescription drug that stimulates the central nervous systems and is used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Many people believe that it can also be used by everyone else to improve concentration and focus. Dale decided to give it a try. Getting the drug was surprisingly easy: he says he researched the symptoms for ADD on the Internet, walked into a doctor’s office, regurgitated those symptoms—and within minutes walked away with a prescription.
Over the following months, whenever Dale’s high school workload swelled and he needed to concentrate for an extended period of time, he would cut a 10 mg pill in half and pop it in his mouth. Then he would sit down and study, with what he claims were remarkable results.
“I felt like I had binoculars on and nothing could distract me,” says Dale. “I went from basically doing nothing to performing at honours level.” By the end of Grade 12, Dale held a 90 per cent average in a number of classes and was on his way to the University of Victoria. He graduated in 2008 and now works in banking.
Dale’s story is apparently not unique. According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, thousands of high-school students are taking prescription drugs like Ritalin, Adderall and Dexedrine for non-medical reasons. The 2007 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey found that about 1 per cent of Ontario high-schoolers (nearly 10,000) reported using ADHD drugs for purposes that included staying awake and improving focus.
A study by the province of Nova Scotia and Dalhousie University found five per cent of high school students using methylphenidates (Ritalin) for non-medical purposes, and four per cent using amphetamines (Adderall). A Quebec government survey in 2002 pegged the number of high-schoolers experimenting with amphetamines at seven per cent. And Last October, a survey by the B.C. Centre for Social Responsibility found that about one-third of students at two B.C. universities were misusing prescription drugs, with the most popular being opiates and stimulants.
The practice may not even be all that new: a decade ago, McGill University’s director of mental health services told the Montreal Gazette that he believed that five to 10 per cent of the university’s students were using Ritalin to help them study.