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Dallas-area students, experts warn against using ‘study drugs’ to get ahead on test day

Excerpt

The following ran in the July 23, 2012, edition of the Dallas Morning News. John Sanger, director of the Southern Methodist University Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, provided expertise for this story.

July 31, 2012

By KIRA WITKIN

Editor's note: The name of the recent graduate who shared her prescription has been removed for her protection.

A recent graduate at John Paul II High School remembers the frequent buzz of her phone during finals week at the Plano school.

“I need your Vyvanse,” callers would pant. “It’s an emergency.”

The teen, whose last name is being withheld for her protection, says she was approached by classmates at her school up to four times a day with the same request.

They wanted the tunnel-vision focus attributed to Vyvanse, Adderall, Ritalin and other stimulants prescribed to treat attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

For ADD and ADHD patients, the medications have calming effects. But for those without that chemical imbalance, these “study drugs” energize users, according to Kevin Gilliland, executive director of the Dallas-Fort Worth rehabilitation program Innovation360.

High schoolers competing for admission to top-tier colleges are seeking out the drugs, formerly associated with collegiate use, for late-night cramming sessions.

“I think our parents are aware of the trend,” the grad said, “but if their kids are bringing home the grade, they’re not going to be overly concerned.”

But experts say the pills aren’t just a gateway to good grades. Abusing them can lead to illicit drug use, health problems and jail time....

But using the drugs can backfire on abusers, said John Sanger, director of the Southern Methodist University Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention. When students use them to cram, they often don’t get necessary sleep and end up performing worse on tests....