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Psycho-stimulants: Performance enhancers?

Published: Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Updated: Friday, August 10, 2012 15:08

As the illegal use of psycho-stimulants like Adderall rises, schools are enacting policies to prohibit their use as "performance-enhancing" drugs.

Students illegally use psycho-stimulants the same way some athletes illegally use steroids to enhance their performance. Though the immediate effects of the drugs appear promising, the long-term effects can outweigh the benefits.

Though students who take psycho-stimulants illegally claim to benefit from increases in concentration, they also can become addicted and require higher doses in the future, leading to many medical and mental problems.

Some students also rely too much on the drugs and study less, believing that the drug will actually make them smarter.

Some college campuses have reacted to the potential threat to the health of their students and the unfairness to honest students by labeling the illegal use of psycho-stimulants as "performance enhancement," which constitutes academic dishonesty.

We believe this is fair. Students with prescriptions have a documented need for the drugs, which may or may not be related to distraction disorders, as psycho-stimulants also treat fatigue and some motor disorders. But the students who use the drug illegally have created a shortage for those who do need it.

What are students learning from popping a pill to increase their already adequate levels of concentration? They learn no lasting skills on how to focus on important tasks, which is a necessary part of life. They become reliant on drugs to succeed.

The risk of addiction is also a concern. When students indiscriminately use drugs to enhance performance, they risk taking too much, too often.

What happened to the days of staying up all night with pots of coffee to study for the big exam?

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