Home » News » Stress Management » Academic Stress May Lead to Stimulant Abuse

Academic Stress May Lead to Stimulant Abuse

studyAs the end of the semester approaches, researchers warn that an increasing number of students are using ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) drugs and energy drinks to help them through their stress.

“Studies have shown that anywhere from 5 to 35 percent of college students are misusing stimulants around stressful times with academics. There is also some evidence that high school students — anywhere from 8 to 10 percent — can misuse stimulants during these times,” says Jennifer Christner, M.D., an adolescent medicine specialist at the University of Michigan Health System.

Approximately 25 percent of high school and grade school children have been approached by friends to use their medication, Christner notes. This causes children to be more susceptible to misusing medications that are not prescribed to them, a decision that can be damaging to their health.

“It is never a good idea to use anyone else’s medication, whether it is a prescribed medication or over-the-counter,” she says. “Of course, if you have ADHD, then use your stimulant on a regular basis and not just when you really need it at crunch-time.”

Misuse of stimulants can lead to depression, irritability, stomachaches and headaches. Serious misuse or abuse of these drugs can lead to very serious side effects, including hypertension and stroke.

The growing popularity of energy drinks can also be harmful to a child’s health, Christner adds.

“There is harm when someone is taking more than one or two of these drinks a day,” she says. “The caffeine can lead to jitteriness, anxiety, increased heart rate and the more serious side effects of high blood pressure, hyperthermia and stroke.”

While Christner notes that drinking one energy drink during a demanding time is usually acceptable, there are ways that a person can maintain energy levels and avoid stimulants altogether. To help ease academic anxiety, she recommends that students do their work steadily, as opposed to saving it all for the last minute. She also suggests keeping up with regular exercise, eating a balanced diet and getting proper rest.

Concerned parents can also take steps toward preventing their children from overusing stimulants, Christner says. Parents can role play with their children and ask them what they would say and do if they were offered medications from their friends. Parents can also be conscientious during the time of their college-aged children’s exams simply by calling and asking if their son or daughter is doing okay.

Christner also advises family members to look out depression, irritability and other warning signs of stimulant abuse.

Source: University of Michigan

Academic Stress May Lead to Stimulant Abuse

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Academic Stress May Lead to Stimulant Abuse. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 16, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.