Today: Jul 17, 2024

Activist brings stimulant abuse awareness to campus

Jack Abbot- General Reporter

Laura Holt, a professor of psychology at Trinity College, visited the university on Tuesday to educate students on the harms of stimulant abuse and what they can do about it. 

Holt has dedicated herself to tackling stimulant abuse, specifically ADHD medication, on school campuses. She first became interested in the subject after students of hers approached her with concerns about peers abusing ADHD medication, such as Adderall.  

According to Holt, misusing ADHD medication includes using it without a prescription, having a prescription and not following the dosage, or taking it in ways that are not intended, such as smoking it or snorting it. 

“I have been curious to learn the characteristics of students who are more likely to misuse these medications,” Holt said. 

She took part in a study of Trinity College students which found that 37% of students surveyed had misused ADHD medication, either by using it without a prescription or by not following their prescription. This is appalling in comparison to a study she discussed which showed that 17% of college students across the country misused ADHD medication.  

According to Holt, the three aspects that put a school at risk for higher rates of ADHD medication abuse are being in the Northeast, being competitive, and being residential. On an individual level, identifying as white, identifying as male, having a lower GPA, using other substances, or having symptoms of ADHD are all characteristics that have shown to have a connection with abusing ADHD medication. 

“Students with ADHD who do not take their medications as prescribed can be at greater risk for car accidents, substance misuse and academic/vocational challenges,” Holt said. 

Holt also claimed that students who misuse ADHD medication to help them with assignments are unlikely to see it improve their GPA despite this being the most common reason for students to do so. Instead, students’ GPAs tend to lower after misusing medication.  

This pattern does not exist for students who are prescribed ADHD medication and follow their prescription. She warned about the stigma surrounding ADHD medication and that peers or family members may be judgmental about prescribed use.  

However, Holt clarified that students who use their medication as prescribed are unlikely to see negative health consequences or move to illegal substances. 

“People will sometimes conflate them using their medications as prescribed as something that’s problematic,” Holt said. “When we look at the epidemiological data, what we find is that people who use their drugs as prescribed, so medical use only, do not show negative outcomes.” 

Holt was invited by Alcohol and Drug Recovery Services as a preventative means of educating students about drug abuse on campus.  

“Attention issues and challenges is something that more students are struggling with,” Associate Dean of Counseling Services and Wellbeing Nick Pinkerton said. “I’m interested in that issue as well as what we can do for supporting students while also understanding that there are concerns around stimulant misuse that we can be aware of.” 

Pinkerton was one of the many people involved with student wellbeing on campus who attended the event. 

“We’ve seen both more attention challenges on the part of many students. We’ve also seen some instances of stimulant misuse as reflected in the national data,” Pinkerton said. 

Pinkerton noted that the university fit many of the risk factors listed in the presentation for having higher rates of medication abuse. He also spoke on the efforts of Health Services and Counseling services to address any issues. 

“We’re working collaboratively to address every issue that we can,” Pinkerton said. “We are doing everything that we can to support who have potential concerns as well as those with a diagnosis.” 

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