College Kids Abusing Prescriptions More than We Even Think
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College Kids Abusing Prescriptions More than We Even Think


This post was originally published on November 24, 2014. recently published a study which showed that abusing “prescription stimulants” is the new normal for the generation that grew up on Facebook and iPhones (what’s Myspace?). Twenty percent of college students have reported abusing prescription medication at least once in their life (and 15% of young adults not in college). The research also found that it is more common in college students after freshman year.

College has always been hard on students but new attitudes about how it’s a waste of money and how the post-graduation workforce is at an all-time competitive high, combines to make students feel increased pressure—and to deal with that, they’re turning to medicine. Forty-four percent of them report abusing stimulants to study, 31% to stay awake and 21% to improve their job performance (27% of the students who abuse stimulants have full-time jobs to pay for school). These are people who are at their physical prime in life with electric brains and yet 64% of them claim that it worked and gave them a “competitive edge” and 62% don’t think their parents would be upset to find out that they took pills to get better grades, stayed up all night studying and worked all day to pay for it.

The self-esteem boost from succeeding in college also gives these kids a good social life. What ever happened to blowing off steam with the slacker roommate and having the best night ever? These kids need a prescription of 80s and 90s teen movies! Animal House would have been so boring if it was just Belushi taking Adderall and doing well in class. But the values are different today: according to this study, 60% of college kids see themselves as the center of their social circles, 43% like being the center of attention and 38% believe they’re the “social hub” (or one of Malcolm Gladwell’s “connectors”) among their friends.

Things have changed since I was in college . Only six percent of students who abuse stimulants say they got them from a dealer. That’s 94% less than anyone I ever knew getting drugs. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s some sort of bonding that happens amongst friends when they go to shady apartments with gate codes where that weird girl that’s always on the couch stares at you. But who needs the hassle of calling guys on Nokia cell phones and being forced to talk about the news when today’s students can just get drugs from their friends or a doctor?

This, by the way, is how they’re getting them: 57% from a friend with a prescription and 10% from a family member. A mere 28% of students who abuse this medication have prescriptions and 52% feel pressure to share and sell them to and with their friends.

The generation of entitled millennials combined with ultra-easy access to drugs is making life so easy but harder at the same time. I had to ask weird guys in jean jackets to buy me beer outside gas stations and now every other college kid has a prescription that would’ve killed Jim Morrison. There’s a life skills education that comes with not being able to get what you want when you want it. Having to learn how to sleep, work and learn is a coming-of-age right that, if done well, can possibly result in a good job, not to mention a good life. It’s hard, though, so not everyone does it. Success is for people who work hard after college, not for those who medicate to increase their chance of doing so. And hey, the world needs slackers and dreamers, people that will quit school, pack up their cars and drive to Hollywood, not just drug-fueled overachievers.

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About Author

Carlos Herrera is a comedian, photographer and writer whose work can also be found on The Fix . He has been featured in LA Weekly and has performed at The Hollywood Improv among other places.