183 Views
1 Comments

UK students using prescription drugs as study aids

UK students are increasingly turning to prescription drugs such as Ritalin to help them study (photo: Jordan Roberts)

UK students are increasingly turning to prescription drugs such as Ritalin to help them study (photo: Jordan Roberts)

Early morning library users will be familiar with the sight of bug-eyed third years, surrounded by empty cans of energy drink, exhausted after having pulled yet another ‘all-nighter.’ However, The Badger has discovered that for some of them it is not just caffeine that they have been taking to keep themselves awake come exam time.

The well-documented American trend of using prescription drugs to stay awake may be arriving at schools and universities in Britain. There is precious little information on how widespread this type of drug abuse is and media coverage has invariably relied on hearsay and anecdotal evidence to map any increase in the popularity of prescription drugs.

If the use of prescription pills in the UK follows American trends with the drug used most frequently by students to stay awake is Ritalin. This drug is more commonly prescribed to sufferers of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), though is also used to relieve symptoms of chronic fatigue and narcolepsy. The NHS Direct website admits that “it is not completely clear” how drugs like Ritalin work. It is chemically related to illegal types of amphetamine, and is illegal if procured without a prescription.

A few Sussex students have admitted to using Ritalin as a means to help them to study. Margaret – not the interviewee’s real name – earned a good degree last year in humanities and said that she took Ritalin towards the end of her final term. She said that she was given the drug “by a friend at uni, who said that he’d got it from America.” Margaret says that she did not pay for the three or four pills that she took during the last stages of her course. “I had a few pills, and spread them out over a few weeks right at the end of term,” she adds.

“People who weren’t on it drank loads of Redbull…what’s the difference?”

There is a broad consensus of opinion on the negative side effects that drugs like Ritalin produce. These include mood swings, loss of appetite and headaches. There has, however, been little research into the possible long term side affects of prolonged use of drugs like Ritalin. When questioned on whether she was concerned, or even aware, of the health risks involved Margaret replied, “No. I wasn’t planning on taking it very much; just to get me through the course, really.” She says that she has not used the drug since.

Perhaps she felt that she needed the drugs to perform well. Her response was “I don’t normally drink coffee, and I was intrigued …no one sleeps that much at the end, so why not? When asked whether she thought taking drugs like Ritalin gave students an unfair advantage, she replied “No, I think everyone was in a weird mindset. People who weren’t on it drank loads of Redbull…what’s the difference?” She did however go on to say that she “could have done without it.”

Another student, currently enrolled on an MA program at Sussex, has far stronger opinions on the illicit use of prescription drugs in schools. Inderpal, who’s name has been changed, earned his first degree in America, and claims to have seen an ugly side to drugs like Ritalin. Inderpal says that his friends, some of whom were prescribed the drug, “started taking it in high school and continued through college. They’d take it for any kind of minor assignment; some were on it all the time.” There was a thriving black market for “uppers” like Ritalin and Adderall, Inderpal claims that “Kids would get their doctors to give them loads, then sell it.”

Inderpal disagrees with Margaret’s belief that such ‘study drugs’ didn’t offer unfair advantages to students. “On the short term, sure. It would allow people to absorb more information,” however, he said that “they didn’t seem to give a long term advantage. Lots of my friends who took it weren’t particularly good at school anyway.”

There has as of yet been no published study into the illicit use of Ritalin in the UK and no government sponsored investigation into the use of prescription drugs in UK universities. In 2006 Caroline Flint, the then Public Health minister, said that the government was aware of “anecdotal evidence of a black market” for prescription drugs and that “inappropriate use of Ritalin in a school setting should be dealt with in line with school drug policy.” The University of Sussex currently has no specific policy on the use of drugs like Ritalin.

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam

One Comment

  1. I really enjoyed this article, which raises some interesting and possibly difficult questions for UK universities. The quality of writing was high.
    Let’s have more from Joe!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
716 views1
Campus News
716 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series
Arts
163 views
Arts
163 views

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - June 17, 2018

Pictured: Zac Black At Proud Cabaret audiences were spellbound as if at night at the circus, yet this was not like Angela Carter’s magical realist novel; Verve…

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review
Arts
184 views
Arts
184 views

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review

Florence Dutton - June 11, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Last Monday at 8pm at Brighton’s The Old Market, I sat myself down in my theatre seat eagerly awaiting…

Fleabag preview
Arts
178 views
Arts
178 views

Fleabag preview

Florence Dutton - June 2, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Following the mass success of the Bafta award-winning BBC Series, DryWrite and Soho Theatre are about to hit the…

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome
Arts
219 views
Arts
219 views

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome

Georgia Grace - June 1, 2018

Having completed my final semester of university with modules on punk history and queer arts, it was fitting that I rounded off my end-of-assessment celebrations by attending…

Arts
222 views

The Tempest review

Georgia Grace - May 30, 2018

As the sun begins to set over Hove Green, tinnies of Red Stripe are cracked open, tartan blankets are strewn, and families tuck into their picnic hampers.…

A Glass Half Empty review
Arts
217 views
Arts
217 views

A Glass Half Empty review

Georgia Grace - May 27, 2018

For those of us coming to the end of another year of university study, the prospect of careers, marriages and babies may seem a long way off.…

DollyWould at The Old Market review
Arts
208 views
Arts
208 views

DollyWould at The Old Market review

Alex Hutson - May 27, 2018

Sh!t Theatre’s DollyWould is a hilarious, thoughtful and experimental performance piece. The award winning show has the Sh!t Theatre duo integrating comedy, storytelling, personal experience and music.…

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex
Campus News
330 views
Campus News
330 views

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex

Billie-Jean Johnson - May 26, 2018

The Sussex branch of the University and College Union (UCU) has launched a petition calling for Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell to end the 'hostile environment' at Sussex. The…

Arts
169 views

Shakespeare in the sun – The Tempest preview

Georgia Grace - May 24, 2018

In a world of dystopian King Lears and female Hamlets, Shakespeare’s classics are constantly being reimagined for the modern day. There’s something oddly refreshing then about the…

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
455 views
Arts
455 views

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 23, 2018

What a phenomenal contrast these two films present when watched side-by-side. In essence, together they are capable of tracing inner and outer metamorphoses of their subjects. The…

Dollywould at The Old Market preview
Arts
207 views
Arts
207 views

Dollywould at The Old Market preview

Alex Hutson - May 22, 2018

From the 22nd May - 25th May 2018 DollyWould will be showing at The Old Market. An exciting new show, presented by Sh!t Theatre, who won the…

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu
Artist Focus
307 views
Artist Focus
307 views

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - May 16, 2018

Last week artist Fedilou made her debut exhibition in the downstairs space of Morelli Zorelli, a quaint vegan Italian restaurant in Hove, featuring a collection of intimate…

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley
Interview
215 views
Interview
215 views

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley

Nikolaos Manesis - May 15, 2018

Ron Chrisley is a Reader in Philosophy, on the faculty of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, and is the director of COGS (Centre for Cognitive Science).…

Adam review
Arts
290 views
Arts
290 views

Adam review

Ketan Jha - May 13, 2018

If you have been a stranger to the stage this spring and decide to see one contemporary show, let it be Adam. This reviewer went in entirely…

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
331 views
Arts
331 views

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 13, 2018

In celebration of iconic Brighton local, legendary alt-rock musician (and episodic actor) Nick Cave, TOM’s Film Club are hosting a double-bill screening of his films at The…

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review
Arts
368 views
Arts
368 views

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review

Georgia Grace - May 11, 2018

Meta-theatricality and interactivity are becoming all the more vogue in contemporary theatre, and in a world where the arts are becoming increasingly open and democratised, I find…

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks
Artist Focus
266 views
Artist Focus
266 views

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks

Alex Leissle - May 9, 2018

  [gallery type="slideshow" ids="35385,35386,35387,35388,35389,35390,35391,35392,35393,35394,35395,35396,35397,35398,35399,35400,35401,35402,35403,35404,35405,35406,35407,35408,35409,35410,35411"]

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival
Books
281 views
Books
281 views

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival

William Singh - May 9, 2018

Afua Hirsch’s 2018 book - part memoir, part polemic - provokes mixed feelings. So too did her discussion of the topic at this year’s Brighton Festival. Don’t…

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality
Science
364 views
Science
364 views

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality

Luke Richards - May 8, 2018

Bioweapons exist, while ethnic-bioweapons are whispered conspiracies. Pandemics can fairly hazardous to human life, the 1918 Flu Pandemic killed 20-50 million people. A man made pandemic could…

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced
News
337 views
News
337 views

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced

Jessica Hubbard - May 4, 2018

Students have voted to support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, reject Prevent and adopt new Gender Equality policies. Results for the Students' Union referenda were…