UT University Health Services

Study Drugs

The term "study drugs" refers to prescription drugs used to increase concentration and stamina for the purpose of studying or cramming. Study drugs are prescription stimulant medications that are used improperly by a person with a prescription, or more often, illegally by a person without a prescription. These medications are used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which affect attention span, impulse control, self-discipline, and hyperactivity in the case of ADHD.

Prescription stimulants used to treat ADD and ADHD include Ritalin®, Adderall®, Concerta®, and Focalin®. Using or buying these medications without a prescription is illegal. Selling your own prescription is also illegal. UT Police Department, Student Conduct and Academic Integrity, and City of Austin Police Department treat illegal use of prescription drugs as they would any other illegal substance.

Feeling like everyone is doing it?

The misuse of prescription drugs, especially study drugs, is a growing problem on our campus. Some students feel like everyone they know is using study drugs, and they feel pressured to use or to 'catch up' with peers. A recent UT survey found that the majority (87%) of students do not use study drugs. Many Longhorns choose to 'study natural'.

Side Effects

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Paranoia
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Mouth dryness
  • Suppressed appetite
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Impotence or changes in sex drive

Prescription stimulants like Adderall® and Ritalin® have potential for physical and psychological dependence, especially among people who do not have ADHD. Continued use will result in higher tolerance to the drug and eventually require larger doses to reap the same effects. Once discontinued, withdrawal effects such as depression may occur.

Overwhelmed with academic stresses?

Some students may feel like study drugs and cramming are their only options for success. There are a number of resources on campus to help you deal with academic and more generalized stress. Visit the Sanger Learning Center for tutoring, study strategies, and help with time management skills. Visit the Counseling and Mental Health Center for help dealing with stress and anxiety.

Having problems with your ability to concentrate?

Make an appointment with CMHC or UHS to talk to a healthcare provider. They can help you figure out your next steps and identify resources at UT.

Protecting your prescription

Many students who use prescription stimulants have the medicines prescribed and monitored by a doctor and gain benefit from using them. They may be approached by other students to buy their medicines. Here are some tips for protecting your prescription (adapted from NYU Student Health Center):

  • Keep your medicines in a safe, private spot where only you know the location
  • Avoid carrying your entire pill bottle or monthly supply in your backpack
  • Set a reminder on your cell phone for refills, so that you can take your medicine as prescribed without missed or "made up" doses
  • Tell a study drug seeker that you only have enough pills for yourself and not enough to share or sell
  • Tell a study drug seeker that you no longer take the medication. This may be a good option for people who approach you repeatedly
  • Tell a study drug seeker that you are worried they may have an allergic reaction, since the medication is not prescribed to them

Healthyhorns Study Natural

ut students study natural

The Healthyhorns Study Natural campaign aims to prevent the misuse of prescription drugs, especially prescription stimulants or "study drugs", on our campus. Some students may feel like the majority of their friends using study drugs, and they may feel pressured to use or to 'catch up' with peers. A recent UT survey found that the majority (87%) of students do not use study drugs. The Healthyhorns Study Natural initiative promotes the fact that many Longhorns choose to 'study natural' without misusing prescription drugs.

Additional Resources

Prescription Drug Misuse
The Partnership at DrugFree.org - Drug Guide - Prescription Stimulants
ADHD Resources at UT Austin
ADHD Information from UT Services for Students with Disabilities

Helpful Links

Alcohol and Drugs
Bruce the Bat
Alcohol Overdose
Study Drugs

Programs and Classes

Individual Consultations
AlcoholEdu and SAPU
Brief Alcohol Screening Intervention for College Students (BASICS)
Center for Students in Recovery
Student Amnesty for Alcohol Emergencies

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512) 471-4955 (512) 471-4955
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University Health Services is committed to providing high-quality care to patients of all ages, races, ethnicities, physical abilities or attributes, religions, sexual orientations, or gender identities/expression.


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