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Health Experts: Study drugs are not worth the risk

Students using Adderall without doctor's guidance
Posted at 4:34 PM, Dec 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-11 11:12:07-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — It's a stressful time of year for college students. Most of them are studying day and night hoping to pass the final exams headed their way in the next week. On campus health experts fear study drugs are being abused with dangerous consequences.

With all the pressure that comes with college finals a growing number of students are seeking out study drugs like Adderall without the guidance of a doctor. Students hope the drugs can give them the edge they need, but both local health professionals and drug investigators say it's not worth the risk.

Already this year, Executive Director of Health and Wellness Stephanie Hanenberg says she's seen the impact of study drugs like Adderall.

"When we see students it is usually because they took something and they are worried they've done damage to their heart. They come in and they think they are having a heart attack, or they have a racing heart and haven't slept in days and so they can no longer function," said Hanenberg.

This summer UCCS students told News5 the presence of these study drugs is no secret.

"I do know people who are prescribed Adderall to be able to focus... But then I also know people who can just get it from a friend, even though they're not prescribed it," said student Bel Cagen.

But taking study drugs like Adderal without the guidance of a doctor is risky.

"I worry about the one time users that take too much and it does have an affect on their heart, but I also worry about the students that start to realize they like the benefit of it and they like that stimulant and they are looking for the next high from it," said Hanenberg.

On top of that, local law enforcement just put out a warning-- deadly doses of Fentanyl are showing up on the streets in what appear to be prescription pills.

"We've had several cases now here in El Paso County where our narcotics detectives with Metro VNI have located pills containing Fentanyl," said CSPD Lt. Jim Sokolik.

"There have been pill parties in the past where people just bring medications, put them in a bowl and you take that and you might mix it with alcohol. We know that causes serious long term health effects. That can really be deadly especially if you are mixing a whole cocktail of medications, so I think the warning was very timely, perfect, and I hope people really listen because this can be really serious," said Hanenberg.

Healthcare professionals say another concern is the fact study drugs share similar components with meth and it could lead to addiction problems in the future.

What are the signs of study drug abuse?

"So if someone is abusing it really what you're going to start to see that they might have some jitters, again the racing heart. Sleep is a big one because if they are taking it and they don't need it and it's working as a stimulant it is keeping them up at night. If you start to notice someone hasn't been sleeping, maybe they are only sleeping a couple hours at night and they have a loss of appetite they're losing weight those are all things that are big warning signs that they have more of an issue than just taking it once or twice," said Hanenberg.

For resources and ways to get help: https://www.uccs.edu/aod/resources