As we hit mid-semester and deadlines approach, it’s becoming harder to find a free computer in the library, and more likely to find students doing all-night study sessions. Many of us are guilty of leaving an essay until the last minute, then stocking up on coffee and Red Bull to motivate ourselves into typing away in a late-night frenzy. Whilst this scenario is relatively tame, and quite average, it can be hard to remember that the caffeine in these energy drinks is technically a drug. Sometimes that coffee does not give you the kick you needed.
The Y generation is the most highly-educated one recorded, thus university graduates are struggling to carve out a space for themselves in the job market. So, getting the best possible grades seems like the first step to securing a job in the future. Yet, what happens when the workload pressures become too much?
For some students, the answer is ‘smart drugs’. The prevalence of the use of prescription-drug Adderall in the US is no news. Meant to treat ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder), a large number of students have been recorded to be faking diagnoses to use the smart drug as a study enhancer. Helping gain focus and concentration, and limiting tiredness seems ideal, but its side-effects of irritability, mood swings, weight loss and addictiveness are all too real.
But what happens in our own, rainy island of England? Both the Daily Mail and the Guardian have reported in recent times a rise in the use of Modafinil. Modafinil is another prescription drug meant to treat narcolepsy. It helps curb tiredness and keeps you alert for hours on end.
The drug is widely available on the Internet through pharmaceutical providers based in Oceania and Asia. Although it is illegal to supply it without a prescription in the UK, it is legal to carry it on your person without one, unlike Adderall. But, by buying through the Internet or on the Black Market you are putting yourself at risk. Without a test kit it is impossible to tell what you are actually consuming.
Some of the common side-effects are nausea, anxiety and headaches. Modafinil has been circulating only since 2002- and the long-term risks remain unknown.
Instead of needing to resort to smart drugs or cramming, it is much safer and healthier to organise your time better. You can allot specific study or reading time in order to keep up, or engage in group revision. If you really feel like you are struggling, you can always talk to your Academic Advisor or seminar tutor or even contact your HUB for extensions. If it is between 8pm and 8am, Nightline is open every night to listen or point you towards drug abuse helplines.
The University offers lots of support to help work through the pressure- no drugs needed.