Illegal, non-medical abuse of prescription drugs by students is a growing problem on college and university campuses. When used properly and as prescribed, prescription drugs can treat a host of medical problems and relieve pain. When illegally abused, prescription drugs may be addictive, and result in serious adverse consequences.
Because prescription drugs can be legally obtained and are inexpensive, prescription drug abuse is on the rise on campus. The National Survey on Drug Use & Health showed that in 1999, an estimated 4 million people, about 2 percent of the population age 12 and older, used prescription drugs non-medically in the past month. These data also indicate that one of the most dramatic increases in new users of prescription drugs for non-medical purposes occurs in 18- to 25-year-olds. Among this college-age group, abuse of prescription drugs grew from 9.3 percent in 2000 to 12.1 percent in 2001 - a 33 percent increase.
Painkillers, most notably OxyContin, account for most of the increase in prescription drug abuse among college-age young adults. Ritalin, a stimulant used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, has also garnered recent attention for being abused by college students trying to stay awake while studying or partying.
A prescription painkiller, OxyContin has gained notoriety in the past few years as an addictive drug becoming more commonly abused.
When used to treat ADHD, these prescription drugs have a calming effect. When abused non-medically, Adderall, Ritalin, and Dexedrine have stimulant effects, and may be abused by students.