Prescription Pressures: 'It did help with the grades, quite a bit'

EUGENE, Ore. - As many as 1 in 3 college students admit to using pharmaceuticals to give them the competitive edge in academics.

Yet medical professionals are finding that some students are becoming addicted when using those pharmaceutical shortcuts.

Addiction specialist Dr. Ron Schwerzler said some students looking to boost their study habits use prescription drugs containing methylphenidate, which is found in brands like Adderall, Ritalin or Provigil.

"It made school easier. It made work easier, and then it made life easier," one University of Oregon student told our KVAL News team on condition of anonymity.

Schwerzler helped put KVAL News in contact with students willing to talk about their use of the drugs.

They are stimulants initially prescribed in the 1990s to help boost focus in children with Attention Deficit Disorder.

"I think the past five years particularly, not a rise so much in methamphetamine illegally, but we've seen a lot of the legal amphetamines being misused by adolescents and young adults," Schwerzler said.

Abuse of methylphenidate is growing on college campuses. One UO student told KVAL News he used to make quite a lot of money selling his Adderall prescription.

"A good 80 bucks a week, towards the end," the student said.

Why are so many young adults abusing these medications?

"It did help with the grades, quite a bit. It's almost like an unfair advantage," another student said. "Feeling pressure to get it all done at once, so I'd take Adderall or other substances."

Schwerzler said drugs like Adderall and Ritalin are considered Schedule II controlled substances, regulated the same as other addictive narcotics like oxycodone, methadone, and even forms of cocaine.

"I think the main thing about them is that they are addicting," he said.