Prescription Drug Abuse Increasing on Campuses

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 12, 2011 | Go to article overview

Prescription Drug Abuse Increasing on Campuses


Byline: Lindsay Melvin Scripps Howard News Service

University of Memphis student Sarah Harrison doesnt indulge in other peoples prescription drugs, but she knows plenty of college kids who do.

Making her way across campus on a rainy afternoon, the junior said, "I mean, anyone can get it, and if you dont have it, someone will sell it to you."

Harrison is referring to Adderall, a widely prescribed drug for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Drug abuse on college campuses isnt limited to binge drinking and illegal drugs. Across the nation, prescription drugs are now the second most-abused drug after marijuana, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

And the White House is calling prescription drug abuse the nations fastest-growing drug problem.

But its not just students looking to party who are popping other peoples prescription pills.

Stimulants used to treat ADHD, like Adderall and Ritalin, are among popular study drugs on campus, as students use them to help focus while pulling all-nighters.

"It helps them get all their work done," Harrison said.

But because the legal drug culture has only been on the radar for a few years, there is still limited data on prescription drug abuse on college campuses, said James G. Murphy, associate professor of psychology at the U of M.

In turn, universities are not attacking it on the same level as illegal drugs and alcohol. "Its hard to get people to recognize it as a problem," Murphy said.

His research focuses heavily on addiction among college students. In a culture where people fuel up several times a day on Starbucks and Red Bull, depending on stimulants is a way of life, Murphy said.

So when a student reaches for someone elses prescription drugs to stay wired for a late-night cram session, it isnt always perceived as drug abuse.

Nevertheless, taking and selling drugs that havent been prescribed by a physician is illegal and dangerous, Murphy said. …

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