COMMENTARY | Stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin commonly used to treat ADHD have surfaced in a new role on college campuses over the years as study aids. Students buy these academic steroids, often from other students, to enhance focus and stay awake longer during exams or homework sessions. A recent report in the Washington Post cites administrator concerns with the growing issues of prescription study aid usage, but, can universities really do much to battle cognitive-enhancing drugs? Should universities do more to punish academic steroid users?
Prescription drug abuse affects millions of Americans. In fact, according to a 2009 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration survey, over 16 million Americans had taken a prescription medication for non-medical purposes during the preceding 12 months. Prescription drug concerns affect many students long before hitting college campuses, yet universities may come to bear liability.
Cognitive enhancing drugs are cheating tools. Some colleges and universities have stepped forward by adding academic steroid use to their lists of academic no-no’s. Duke University, for example, considers cognitive-enhancing prescription drugs a violation of the Duke University’s academic policy and makes their use an academic crime. Since detecting and punishing academic steroid users is so difficult, few other schools have followed suit.
Prescription drug abuse affects millions of Americans. In fact, according to a 2009 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration survey, more than 16 million Americans had taken a prescription medication for non-medical purposes during the preceding 12 months. Prescription drug concerns affects many students long before hitting college campuses, yet universities may come to bear liability.
Prescription drug users underestimate the risks. Prescription drugs seem to have a cleaner image than street drugs-leading even highly educated people to underestimate prescription drug risks. While study aid drugs, such as Adderall and Ritalin, rarely land users in hospital emergency rooms, there is still a potential for side effects and risks to even a casual user. Universities should use caution in turning a blind eye to academic steroids.
Academic steroids offer students an unfair advantage over peers. Studies indicate that students using prescription study aids are not generally at the top of the class, but they may be scholarship students. While there are certainly academic steroid users who are simply stretched too thin between work, home and school life, there are many users who are simply not motivated to study throughout a semester or attend classes regularly. Is it really ethical for a generally non-motivated student to have an unfair chemical advantage over a student who works hard without a chemical boost?
Student athletes are monitored and punished for using performance enhancing drugs or steroids; it seems that other students, especially academic scholarship students, should be honest in their successes as well. Unfortunately, without signs of abuse, additional crimes or emergency room visits, many prescription study aid users glide under the radar of academic misconduct.