Prescription For Disaster

By Stephanie Murphey

Lesson Plan Guide


With all the activities available during high school and college, it is no wonder that students often feel stressed out and pressed for time -- especially during finals. The pressures of performing well and getting work done come from parents, coaches, and teachers, while the pressures of going out and having fun come from friends. Unfortunately, more and more students are turning to prescription drugs to help cope with the stresses of school.

It might start simply enough: Caffeine pills to stay awake to write a paper or Vicodin to relieve a recurring tension headache. Though the use of such pills is fine when prescribed by a doctor or taken in moderation when the situation is warranted, the abuse of prescription pills can have damaging effects in all aspects of life, from medical to personal. Abuse of prescription drugs is not only unhealthy, but also illegal.

SkullConsequences can be devastating
A drug is abused when it is taken for reasons other than its intended prescription and more often than prescribed. The effects of drug abuse are far-reaching. Four categories of commonly abused prescription drugs are tranquilizers, sedatives, stimulants, and pain relievers. Each drug type carries its own consequences. For example, stimulants not only affect mental health, causing paranoia, but also cause heart problems that could result in death, according to

Although users of prescription drugs may only intend to take the drugs once or twice, the addictive nature of these medicines may cause the habit to escalate. Addictions develop within the brain and cannot be stopped by simply wishing the problem away. Getting over a serious problem like addiction often requires the support of family, friends, and a doctor.

Seek help to end an addiction
The effects of addiction are not only personal but can damage others too. Common symptoms of addiction include depression, increased tolerance of the drug, feeling helpless without the drug, and destruction of relationships.

For those who are addicted, many helpful resources exist to break the habit. There are several Internet help services, and many schools have counselors or nurses onsite to assist with any problems.

These resources are also helpful to those who are having troubles with stress and thoughts of taking prescription drugs. No matter the problem, it is important to realize that nothing is worth risking health and legal troubles. Getting help doesn’t have to be embarrassing. There will always be people who will do their best to assist however they can to get a young life back on track.

Not a smart move: More teens abusing Ritalin, AdderallMan pulling his hair

Abuse of the stimulants Ritalin and Adderall in particular appears to be driving the increases in teen medicine abuse. Stimulants are a class of drugs that enhance brain activity and are commonly prescribed to treat health conditions including ADHD and obesity. But some teens and college students are abusing Ritalin and Adderall as study aids. Brigham Young University health science and computer science researchers recently did a six-month study monitoring Twitter and found that tweets about Adderall use peaked sharply during final exam periods.

It is not safe or smart to abuse Ritalin or Adderall, both of which can have side effects. “We don’t really know what long-term effects these ADHD medications will have on the still-developing brains of adolescents who do not have ADHD. We do know they can have significant side effects, which is why they are limited to use with a prescription,” said Alain Joffe, MD, MPH, Director, Student Health and Wellness Center at Johns Hopkins University and Former Chairman, American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Substance Abuse.

Take medications only that are prescribed for you, and take them only as prescribed. Trying to gain an academic edge by abusing stimulants is not worth the risk.

About the Author

Stephanie Murphey