Sometimes referred to as “cognitive enhancers” or “academic steroids," study drugs have become increasingly popular for enhancing overall cognitive performance.
When ingested, study drugs help individuals concentrate, as well as become more alert and energized. With effects like these, it seems study drugs are the perfect remedy for a cluttered mind.
As a result, taking study drugs has become an epidemic for students. They view these drugs as easy ways to success and good grades. They're especially enticed by the fact that they'll be able to party whenever they want.
However, these stimulants are more harmful than one may assume.
So, what exactly are study drugs?
Prescription stimulant medications – or “study drugs” – are meant to treat attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
People who suffer from ADHD typically have difficulty focusing. They are forgetful, and have short attention spans.
Individuals diagnosed with this cognitive disorder use these prescription stimulants in order to return neuroreceptors to a balanced level by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. As a result, they focus better.
Central Nervous System (CNS) stimulants are designed to heighten mental ability by improving memory, concentration, alertness, attention and motivation. They've also been proven to improve cognitive skills and retention.
When people who don't have cognitive disorders like ADHD take these stimulants, their neuroreceptor levels increase beyond the normal amount. This causes feelings of euphoria.
So, how did these prescription drugs come to be known as “study drugs?”
In recent years, high school and college students have turned to stimulants in order to enhance concentration and attention while studying or working. Some even take them when they go out, as a "safer" alternative to cocaine.
The most common study drugs are Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta, Vyvanese, Dexedrine, Focalin, Methylin, Modafinil and Rubifen.
While these stimulants can be very beneficial for the individuals who ARE affected by ADHD, students who aren't diagnosed with cognitive disorders can experience harmful side effects or dependency issues.
These side effects include (but are not limited to) irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, restlessness, anxiety, nervousness and paranoia.
How do study drugs make you feel?
The reason people take study drugs in the first place is because it heightens their mental response.
Many report feeling like they have extreme energy and a sense of complete concentration.
A person taking a study drug feels like he or she can stay focused on the task at hand for a longer period of time, as compared to when he or she has coffee. This is why many students view study drugs as quick fixes for energy and concentration, as opposed to caffeine.
How do study drugs affect your sleep?
Restlessness is one of the most common symptoms individuals experience from abusing study drugs.
When they're used to improve your focus or increase awareness during work or school, study drugs can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule.
Drugs like Adderall and Ritalin stimulate brain activity and create feelings of excess energy or improved focus. If these medications are taken too late in the day, they can interfere with your ability to fall asleep naturally.
Some users metabolize the drug slower than others, which further prevents them from being able to fall asleep.
Study drugs also suppress REM cycles, therefore interfering with your ability to sleep deeply and feel well-rested the next day. For this reason, many people experience feelings of anger, laziness or depression the day after taking these drugs.
The level of neurotransmitters in your brain decreases significantly during sleep. But when you take a study drug, your neurotransmitters are heightened, therefore making falling asleep difficult.
While study drugs may seem like an easy solution to heighten productivity and focus, they're not.
At the end of the day, sleep deprivation will hinder the brain's learning processes, cognitive functioning and information retention. Taking a study drug to cram for a test you've procrastinated on will work against you.
You don't have to sacrifice a good night's sleep for an increase in attention span. Getting an adequate amount of sleep will help improve cognitive function, allowing you to stay alert and focused in a natural and safe way.