One in four students uses Ritalin or Concerta (an alternative drug) without having been prescribed the medication by a doctor, according to an IVM study conducted among 400 students. Eighty per cent of these students use the drug – which they usually obtain through a family member, friend, or fellow student – to improve their academic performance. A small percentage uses the drug when they go out at night.
‘That means ADHD medication is being circulated and a considerable portion ends up in the hands of students who have not in fact been diagnosed with ADHD’, the IVM reports.
And that, says the institute, is dangerous, because improper use of Ritalin can have serious consequences. Side effects include cardiovascular issues, depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and insomnia. ‘Almost half of those side effects occurred among adults and included three deaths.’
The active substance in ADHD medications Ritalin and Concerta is methylphenidate, making them closely related to speed (amphetamine). They are stimulants that improve a person’s concentration and mood. Its effect is comparable to that of speed, albeit less strong. The effects also do not last as long.
The IVM admits that their limited data does not necessarily represent all Dutch students. ‘But our findings do match the trend that’s been observed’, according to the institute. The IVM wants research university and university of applied sciences students to be better informed about drawbacks of using the drugs.
Previously, the Universiteitskrant tested the effect of Ritalin during studying. Read the article here.