DENVER -- On a campus with nearly 25,000 undergrads it’s hard to stand out. Allison Squicciarino is a senior at The University of Colorado at Boulder, and she said classes can get tough.
“I found that I had a hard time concentrating, I had a heavy workload last semester,” she said.
Her doctor recently prescribed Adderall, a drug used to treat ADHD, and widely known to help users concentrate.
“I think it just makes me focus a little more,” she said. “If I’m reading a book it’ll help me really immerse myself in the book.”
For Squicciarino, the results are a blessing.
But that’s not the case for everyone. A new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration showed the number of emergency room visits related to stimulant medications more than doubled from 2005 to 2010.
The largest increase was in those ages 18-25, which quadrupled from about 2,131 to 8,148.
We spoke with the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Health and Wellness at CU, Dr. Donald Misch. He said the biggest problem is students who use the drugs to study, when they don't have a prescription for them.
“I don`t think the report is surprising,” Misch said. “They view the medications as brain steroids, and the analogy is to performance enhancing drugs in sports.”
Use goes up at high stress times like midterms and finals, but there can be dangerous side effects.
“Things like a rapid heartbeat, you can have shortness of breath, you can have chest discomfort, you can feel anxious, you can get a tremor,” said Misch.
The drugs are readily available on campus.
“I would say it’s definitely easy to get or know someone who has some,” said Squicciarino.
The report also found in increase in recreational use of the stimulant medications.
Doctors, including Misch, say the drugs are even more dangerous when snorted or injected.