ADHD medication abuse on the rise on campus

COCC, OSU-Cascades students weigh in on statewide trend

POSTED: 7:44 PM PST November 12, 2013    UPDATED: 1:36 PM PST November 14, 2013 
BEND, Ore. -

For some students, the pressure of studying for midterms and finals gets to be too much. So they decide they need some chemical help.

Enter Adderrall and Ritalin, just two of the drugs prescribed to people who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

"I've heard just in general, people will take it to get better scores on tests," COCC student Jake Staffeld said Tuesday.

Doctors at Oregon State university say this has been a growing trend for the past 15 years. Students are abusing the drugs, using them to stay awake and focused in order to study.

"A lot of students that are prescribed those medicines are sharing them with their friends or using them for things other than helping with their attention deficit disorder," said Dr. Jeff Mulls with Student Health Services at OSU.

The abuse is seen on large campuses. Mulls says OSU and the University of Oregon are both seeing an increase.

Students we talked with say the trend is happening here in Central Oregon

"I've had a few classmates that have ADD, and a few that aren't, that take the prescriptions," said COCC student Ron Tucker.

"I know a guy who takes the ADHD pill,s and he studies a lot -- but most of the time, it's not even for studying," said another student, Walead Sultani.

Some students say the real abuse starts even earlier than college.

"I know it started in high school, because I was hearing about it back then, and I'm sure it came up with students through there," Staffeld said.

Doctors warn there could be real implications for abusing the medication, both medically and criminally.

"There can be adverse affects, especially on the heart with this medication," Mulls said. "And it is a felony if someone gives a scheduled prescribed drug to someone else. And these drugs aren't harmless -- people can become addicted to them."

Even so, for some college kids, the possibility of getting a higher grade outweighs any consequences.

"For some people, it must be worth the risk, because they're out there doing it," Staffeld said.

Campus coordinators are trying to figure out how to combat the drug abuse. Some schools in Oregon require students to sign contracts promising not to misuse pills or share them.

However, COCC and OSU-Cascades do not have a student health center.