The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

94° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Study aids carry health risks with excessive use

    Rafael Diaz, an accounting junior, works on a paper for his business class yesterday afternoon in the ILC with an energy drink at his side. Stimulants like energy drinks are safe in moderation, but consuming too many can lead to addiction and dependency.
    Rafael Diaz, an accounting junior, works on a paper for his business class yesterday afternoon in the ILC with an energy drink at his side. Stimulants like energy drinks are safe in moderation, but consuming too many can lead to addiction and dependency.

    With midterms hitting students throughout the week, many are reaching for cans, cups and pills to help them get through the late nights of studying.

    Besides the myriad of facts and other tidbits they’re reading, students should also keep in mind the effects such substances can have on their bodies, said Lynn Reyes, an alcohol and drug prevention specialist at the Campus Health Service.

    “”Coffee is usually harmless, but all stimulants can be a risk when not used in moderation,”” she said.

    Caffeine is the most widespread stimulant used to aid students cramming for tests, and coffee shops around campus have noticed a surge as exam week approaches.

    “”We definitely get a lot busier,”” said Chris Fraker, an employee at the Starbucks on East University Boulevard. “”You look around and see students everywhere at tables studying, and you pretty much know it’s midterms week.””

    Coffee is perhaps the most common source of caffeine among student options, although energy drinks, which also contain vitamins and sugar, have been looked to increasingly as a quick source of vigor.

    In fact, coffee is the most immediately potent. A 16-ounce cup from Starbucks contains an average of 330 milligrams of caffeine, while an 8.2-ounce can of Red Bull contains only 80.

    Monster and Rock Star, two other popular energy drinks, contain 160 milligrams in their 16-ounce cans.

    Regardless, drinking too much caffeine can cause jitters and anxiety attacks, and ends up being counterproductive to the study process, Reyes said.

    She added that frequent consumption of energy drinks could lead to a whole other range of health problems.

    Adderall is a stimulant prescribed to treat attention-deficit disorder, and it has been known to help students stay awake to study and improve their ability to focus.

    “”Although it seems counterintuitive that a stimulant would be prescribed to improve focus, Adderall is very beneficial to people with ADD and ADHD,”” Reyes said. “”But people with ADD don’t just take it during finals, and there’s always a risk of dependency for those taking it without a prescription.””

    Adderall is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it carries a high potential for abuse and addiction. It is an amphetamine, and like other amphetamines users can suffer from withdrawal symptoms if they develop an addiction, Reyes said.

    She said it is rarely prescribed without a work-up phase to slowly transition someone onto the drug and minimize the health risks.

    Adderall is a time-release drug, which sets it apart from similar drugs like Ritalin that release the entire dose at once.

    The medication is released in several phases, which allows the effects to be maintained over a longer period of time, making it ideal for those trying to study in large blocks without breaks.

    As students turn to chemical sources to cram in last-minute study sessions before tests, Reyes warns against taking any pharmaceutical drug without a prescription.

    Stimulants like caffeine, however, are OK in small amounts.

    “”The key is moderation,”” she said.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search