By Amberly Richardson
Student’s use of prescription and non-prescription drugs to
relax, stay alert and to party is on the rise.
According to a recent study by the University of Michigan, the
misuse of prescription drugs ranks second (behind marijuana) in
elicit drug use with people 12-25 years of age.
Students abuse prescription drugs by mixing alcohol with
narcotic pain relievers such as Demerol, Vicodin or Soma because
the combination increases intoxication.
“Soma is a muscle relaxant often taken in combination with other
drugs (such as alcohol, Valium and Vicodin) to enhance the effects
of those drugs,” said Dr. Steven DeStefano of Student Health
“I remember being stoked whenever someone had Somas. One time I
was holding everyone’s Somas in my pocket for a baseball game. When
it came time to pass them out, I had taken them all,” said a
student who chose to remain anonymous.
“We were drinking for a long time before the game and I just
forgot. By the middle of the game, I was pretty much passed out in
the chair, with drool. My friends had to practically carry me out
of the stadium. At least that’s what they told me.”
According to health care professionals this student’s side
effects could have been worse.
“Over dosage [of Soma] can result in death,” said DeStefano.
“Death from combinations of these agents or overdosages can result
from depression of the respiratory center in the central nervous
system. In other words, breathing can become difficult or stop
“The labels on prescription bottles, which state ‘do not take
with alcohol’ are there for a reason,” said Jamie Miller, a
registered nurse. “The pharmacist wasn’t kidding.”
Not all students feel the combination is a good way to
“It’s dangerous to mix medicine and alcohol because of the
hazards it can do to your body,” said Ricky Aguilar, a third-year
aerospace engineering and applied mathematics student. “Most of the
time, the people don’t know how the different chemicals and
medicines interact with the alcohol. They only care about the
‘high’ or how much more ‘drunk’ they feel.”
The Student Health Center is aware of the trend of abuse.
“At Student Health Services we generally do not prescribe large
amounts of these medications or give frequent refills due to the
potential for abuse,” said DeStefano. “The pharmacy and the
clinician typically monitor closely the prescriptions given.
Despite our best efforts, abuse can occur.”
Pain relievers are abused without alcohol too, as a way to relax
for some students. While prescriptions Ritalin and Adderall are
used as a study aid for others.
The University of Michigan’s research found that students
enrolled in schools with high academic standards reported higher
numbers of prescription abuse.
Ritalin, nicknamed the “Smart Drug,” “Smarties,” or “Kiddy Coke”
is used as an academic performance enhancer.
The University of Buffalo compared Ritalin use to Amphetamine
use. The university reported that Ritalin used as a study aid or
party drug continues to be used in the same manner as Amphetamines
were during the 1960s.
It is estimated that more than five million teens and young
adults use Ritalin for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
With the medication’s popularity it is easy for students to obtain
it from friends, classmates or siblings who have legitimate
People who want Ritalin for improper use also falsely claim to
be ADHD sufferers to acquire prescriptions.
If used improperly Ritalin can be highly addictive and have side
effects such as insomnia, seizures and psychotic episodes.
The improper use of the cough medicine Robitussin is another
trend of medicinal abuse referred to as “Robotripping.”
With an overdose of the over the counter medicine a robotic
feeling is produced.
“Short-term effects of abusing cold medicines with
dextromethorphan will vary with the amount taken,” said DeStefano.
“They could include confusion, dizziness, visual impairment,
nausea, vomiting, rapid heart rate, drowsiness and disorientation.
The individual generally takes it to achieve the ‘high’ caused by
taking a large amount. Long-term effects could include potential
Robotripping is mostly popular with teens because the medicine
is easily available. Both politicians and concerned citizens would
like to see this changed.
“I feel that cough syrups need to require an 18 [or older] ID,”
said Aguilar. “If we have to protect our youth from doing stupid
things, then we have a right to.”
Retailers such as Walgreens and Rite Aid have voluntarily
started to require that a buyer is 18 years or older to purchase
any product with the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM).
Amberly Richardson can be reached by e-mail at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (909) 869-3747.
Legal Medications Being Used for Recreation
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