Stimulants come in many different forms and can have varying purposes. All stimulants, however, have addictive qualities that can affect those who use them.
What are Stimulants, and Why Use Them?
Doctors prescribe some stimulants such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Concerta to treat ADD, ADHD, and narcolepsy disorders. These prescription amphetamines help the patient focus and are more alert when going about their day. More common forms of a stimulant include caffeine and nicotine, which are used by many on a daily basis and can cause mild addiction in some.
Stimulants can also come in the form of various illicit drugs. These drugs include cocaine, meth, and ecstasy. All stimulants work to increase dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the body, affecting the brain’s reward system and the cardiovascular system.
Stimulants give the body an energy boost and increase concentration and decrease fatigue. That is why so many young adults find them so appealing and tend to get addicted to them in an attempt to outperform their peers in academics, athletics, or in the workplace. Despite having numerous positive short-term benefits, these drugs can cause significant long-term issues if abused and negatively impact the heart.
Stimulant Problems in Higher Education
Very few understand the long-term effect that stimulants have on the body. Pharmaceutical neuroenhancement, otherwise known as the misuse of prescription drugs, illicit drugs, or alcohol to enhance the brain’s functioning, is a widespread occurrence and tends to occur in environments where the stakes are high.
The further education sector is one of the most common areas to find young adults using stimulants for neuroenhancement. Students often pair these drugs with other substances such as tranquilizers, alcohol, and cannabis to control their stress levels, leaving the stimulants to take care of the cognitive enhancement.
When used according to the prescription, stimulants can be very effective for those suffering from various conditions. Previous studies have uncovered the truth that stimulants can be associated with more ambiguous effects despite their different positive attributes.
The mental enhancement comes at the cost of the risk of cardiovascular issues further down the line and the possibility of addiction which can destroy a person’s livelihood and change their life drastically. Receiving the right amount of sleep and using successful learning techniques can be just as effective as prescription drugs and are a possible solution to avoiding the harmful impact stimulants can have on students.
The Risk of Addiction to Stimulants
Experts did a study at the University of Mainz where 22 students with prescriptions for stimulants were asked several questions regarding the drugs that their doctors had prescribed them. When asked whether they believe that stimulants used for Neuroenhancement may lead to addiction, around half agreed that it was “quite likely” but continued anyway.
The stimulants prescribed for disorders such as ADD and ADHD can help students in ways that would make addiction more likely. These drugs help patients function in their everyday life and cope with the various pressure they face in the school environment. The addiction to stimulants for NE is purely a mental one. The physical dependence comes later, but at first, the desire to be at the top of the class is enough to push someone to addiction.
Results of Addiction to Stimulants on the Body
Stimulants come with their list of side effects. Many get from taking these drugs; the desired euphoric feeling is followed by a significant low, with feelings of depression, insomnia, and fatigue commonly taking place. The symptoms of taking higher doses of stimulants include;
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- The constant tension of the body
- Nausea and an upset stomach
- Uncontrollable tremors
- Vomiting and Diarrhea
- Chest pain and possible stroke
- Seizures and violent seizures
- Comas both long and short term
- Cardiovascular issues that could lead to a heart attack
Overview and Take Away
Many of the students in the study noted above turned to aggressive cigarettes smoking or drinking alcohol to calm themselves down to counteract these symptoms. The high alertness that comes with taking stimulants can affect sleep patterns and forces many to turn to widely available prescription or illicit drugs in an attempt to calm down and fall asleep finally.
Sleep issues are a problem for students in the first instance. It’s normal for young people to prefer a nocturnal lifestyle, and drugs, including legal stimulants, are often relied on to maintain this lifestyle leading to addiction and sometimes unusual behavior.
Students often find it challenging to reverse this lifestyle long after leaving higher education and taking the habits reinforced on campus to their employers and back to their home lives, causing disruption and unhappiness. On the surface, the odds may seem to outweigh the risks, but students who regularly abuse their bodies do so at a cost.
The long-term health risks involved with abusing stimulants are far greater than the short-term benefits of using them for Neuroenhancement. If used correctly, these drugs can benefit those suffering from various disorders that affect their concentration levels. Still, a thin line is easily crossed and can cause some to fall into addiction and suffer the consequences.