The objective of this paper is to highlight the perception of college students and athletes about the usage of stimulants either to boost athletic performance or to enhance academic activities. It begins with the introduction of stimulants: how they are prescribed? To whom they are prescribed? Medical doctors prescribe stimulants to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Further, the discussion will revolve around the response of body and mind after stimulant’s use, particularly in students and athletes.
The stimulants are types of medicine which are used in the medical discipline. Doctors can prescribe stimulants after thorough physical and psychological examination of the patient. However, one can get stimulants from the open market. Such stimulants come from illegal sources or probably prescribed drugs that are sold without government’s authorisation (Hartung et al.). In this regard, the role of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is vital because they are authorised to control illegal drugs in the United States in collaboration with The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) whose role is to protect public health and safety by implementing effective policies and rules. Both of these agencies ensure a smooth process with a systematic approach to control public health.
This particular research focuses on stimulants that are prescribed by doctors, not the illegal ones. The primary objective of prescribing stimulants is to cure Attention Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Attention deficit disorder (ADD), Narcolepsy (a disorder regarding control of sleep and wakefulness) and the depression of minor nature. Researchers have demonstrated the usefulness of stimulants in the people suffering from ADHD and ADD. The stimulants have enhanced their mental capacity which made them much more alert and focused compared to before. For those who are under Narcolepsy, stimulants have served as a healing agent for them, and they were able to maintain alertness as stimulant directly make Central Nervous Systems (CNS) more functional. Also, stimulants are helpful for those who are not suffering from ADHD as it raises the levels of Norepinephrine and Dopamine inside the brain. The primary function of Dopamine improves pleasure reaction in the brain. Whereas, “Norepinephrine” works as a neurotransmitter with some activity of hormone that responds to the feeling of stress. It also causes effects on behaviour and moods overall. Hence, prescription stimulant works as a tool to improve person’s individual and mental capacity.
Today’s world is very demanding, and this is why students and athletes are under constant pressure to achieve success through their performance. It prompts them to use performance-enhancing drugs. In fact, stimulants help to improve some part of a person’s physical or mental performance. Apart from stimulants, performance enhancers include steroids, hormones, sedatives and other doping agents. According to Patrick Kilcarr (Director of health education services), not all types of drugs that are considered performance enhancer, enhance performance unless they are misused. He further elaborated that an athlete with low testosterone when uses performance-enhancing drug to attain an average level of testosterone, this is not performance enhancer instead it’s a medication. The same medicines that someone gets without particular need become a performance enhancer for that person (Arria et al.). Further, this concept applies to mental stimulants as well. Those who use this without any specific requirement, it becomes performance enhancing tool for them. Dr Vince WinklerPrins (Assistant Vice President of Student Health), mentioned that most widely used performance-enhancing drugs in Georgetown University campus is “caffeine”.
Stimulants use by athletes for better performance are risky on many occasions especially when they are involved in hardcore physical sports. The side effects that can occur as a result of using stimulants prove to be damaging in the long run. Also, the harmful effects depending on the nature of stimulants. Some officials from sports industry expressed their concerns concerning stimulants used for enhancing performance, and they are of the view that ingredients that are used in stimulants for improving performance may give short-term benefit whereas, its disadvantages can be worse in the extended period. If a sportsman is taking stimulants, he must be very clear as to what he is taking and what could be its impacts in future. Many athletes around the world take such stimulants with the belief that they are safe. The constant use of stimulants that causes abnormal growth makes athlete believe that it is the only source to perform better that is why he starts using stimulants excessively which can be very destructive for the body and overall health (Kilcarr). It is imperative for all of us to realise that we are human beings, we can’t push ourselves too much in pursuit of success if we do so, and it would mean that we are putting our health at risk. Some professionals who run sports affairs are of the view that there should be more ethical debates about prescription stimulants for awareness purposes. Also, developing a belief that high performance can be achieved only through stimulants is a negative element as it affects person’s efforts and hard work to obtain good results. Whether it is sports or academics, the pressure is the factor that forces students or athletes to use stimulants (prescription or otherwise) (Reynolds). These pressures include a pressure of winning games, getting a scholarship in the college. Also, students and athletes get inspiration from their fellows, when they hear someone is using stimulants and they have performed well, it gives them the motivation to use stimulant for themselves. While using this, they must be aware of the harmful side effects that cannot be overruled.
Non-medical use of prescription stimulants are more common in college students as compared to that of schools (Parks et al.). A particular study has revealed that from 4.1% to 10.8% of college students use prescription stimulants non-medically (Taylor et al.). Another research shows that non-medical use of stimulants rose significantly from 2003 to 2016. There is an interesting question that from where did the students get non-medical stimulants? The answer to this question is not very complicated as students who are engaged in non-medical stimulant usage, often obtain that from their friends or the person they know. According to one study, 5.3% of college students are using stimulants because of ADHD conditions (Dietz et al.).
There is a serious problem of illegal sharing, selling and purchasing of stimulants, the culture which is prevailing and students are getting influenced by their fellows for these illicit activities. Even there has been a significant rise in the usage of prescription stimulants among those students who were diagnosed the mental problem (Weyandt et al.). The students who are in use of non-medical stimulant are those who have drinking habits, obtain low grades in college, are under depression of any kind and those who are under any type of psychological fear. Experimental research has found mixed results regarding the performance of students who are involved in prescription stimulation. In fact, there is no evidence which suggests that taking prescription stimulant gives good grades to students or enhances mental capabilities to excel in the class.
It is the equal responsibility of parents, teachers and administrators to stop students from non-medical use of stimulants. For that purpose, they should engage students in friendly conversation, and if they feel at a point in time that student is misled and is looking to use stimulant non medically, then it should be discouraged by parents and other concerned people. Teens are susceptible, anyone can persuade them.
The Disadvantages of Prescription stimulants.
The amphetamine substance leaves harmful effects on the body which includes insomnia, reduced appetite, and increase in heart rate. The overdose of this particular stimulant can be even riskier and can be much more harmful to the body. The increased stress on heart or palpitation can be lethal. Also, the long-term use of “Ritalin” caused the death of a teenager due to a sudden heart attack. Similarly, a “Ritalin” injection has further disadvantages on the body. “Methylphenidate” is a chemical compound that completely dissolves in water, it also contains tiny particles of insoluble filters. The materials may choke the small blood vessels, when it is used as an injection in the bloodstream, it can be damaging to lungs and may cause serious harm to eyes. Besides, harmful physical effects, it can cause severe emotional problems even with the short term usage of this particular stimulant. Intoxication and abnormal thinking patterns can also occur as a result of its usage. A specific study has found out that use of Ritalin elevates the danger of cancer. According to this study, every one out of twelve children who received treatment of methylphenidate suffered genetic disorders which were linked with high risk of cancer. In this regard, even small effects cannot be overlooked which include lack in appetite, hypertension, increased body temperatures, pupils dilation, change in sleeping routine and patterns, nausea, fatigue, panic, fear, the risk of seizures, allergies, swelling on the skin. Even it can cause death.
Long terms effects can be much more severe as it can cause- damage to blood vessels of heart and brain on permanent basis, heart attacks and strokes, severe liver, kidney and lung damage, destruction of tissues in nose, breathing/respiratory problems, it may further lead to other infectious diseases and disorders, constant weight loss, epilepsy, lack of interest, fatigue (Ilieva et al.). Most of all there are risks of sudden death which cannot be ignored. Another question arises Does the use of prescription stimulants cause addiction to human? The answer to this question is yes. Even if prescribed by the doctor the long term usage can cause addiction. Also, a person develops tolerance by using stimulants for a longer period which implies that they need a higher dose and it also could be on a frequent basis. If a person has developed substance use disorder (SUD), it means that he has designed and gave up stimulants it says that person has experience withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms include fatigue, depression and lack of sleep.
Another most common that is asked in this regard is that how people can be treated if they are suffering from addiction? The effective methods of treating addiction include behavioural therapy, mental behavioural treatment. Other methods include rewards that are offered for behaving positively such as staying away from stimulants. Addiction falls into the category of a chronic condition that is why patients cannot be recommended to stop using stimulants for a few days for recovery reasons. Recovery is a complete process that takes time and full focus on patients so that he can give up stimulants and recover completely. Engaging patients in social activities is also a part of therapy, keen involvement in family and friends helps students, athletes and general patients to heal swiftly.
Behavioural therapies are vital for patients to modify their behaviours, it also brings a positive attitude in patients, if he has any prior psychological disorder, and it can be controlled through active behavioural therapy. It also puts patients on the right track of life. Various approaches and methodologies are included in behavioural treatment depending upon the stage of the patient (Munro et al.). Engaging patients in conversation is also instrumental in their recovery as it gives the feeling of being cared. The active treatment can take place in different sessions. These sessions can be held weekly with the patients. The purpose behind the behavioural therapy is to give attention to patients.
Effective treatment is based on following principles
- No single pattern or particular method should apply to every patient
- Patients need immediate treatment
- It caters all the physical and mental disorders of the patient
- Develop a complete strategy for patient’s cure
- Counselling and other related behavioural therapies
- Medications along with other behavioural treatments depending on patients’ conditions
The treatment plan should test patients for HIV alongside other physical and mental disorders.
So, the patients who are taking prescription stimulants, they should make sure they are taking the amount of dose which was prescribed by the doctor, they shouldn’t exceed the quantity based on their perception. An individual should take into account all these severe effects while taking prescription stimulants. Considering the harmful effects of prescription stimulants, if anyone by mistake or deliberately takes an overdose, he/she should immediately contact a physician to avoid adverse effects.
It is the human psychology that they want to have upper hand over their competitors and opponents. For this purpose, man seeks different approaches and adopts various methodologies to improve performance. Many college students and athletes have developed their thinking that using stimulants will serve as a performance enhancer for them and it’ll help them achieve good grades and also will give them success in sporting grounds. This belief prompts them to use stimulants. They get stimulants from their friends and a black market. No medical evidence says that stimulants enhance and improve performance. However, a short-term benefit may be obtained as a result of its usage, but on the other hand, it carries incredibly harmful effects. The primary purpose of prescription stimulants is to cure ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and ADD (Attention deficit disorder). Adverse impacts of “Amphetamines” include lack of appetite, sleep disorder, fatigue, nausea, increased risk of heart attack. Also, it causes hallucinations in case of over usage. Even the patients of ADHD and ADD should take the prescribed level of stimulants. If it exceeds the specified level, a doctor should be consulted without any delay. If someone keeps taking stimulants slightly above the required level, the body gets used to it quickly, and it would then need that certain level, in the long run, this quantity affects nerves and causes extreme conditions to the body. When the body gets addicted to stimulants, then immediate giving up doesn’t serve the purpose. Instead, behavioural therapy is the right option for such patients. Behavioural therapy is a complete process in which counselling is also involved. This process further enables patients to reform their behaviour. Depending upon the case, a patient can be put on medication alongside behavioural therapy. In this regard, responsibility lies on the shoulders of doctor, counsellor, friends and family of the person as all these people give the patient a sense of care as loneliness is exceptionally harmful under such conditions. Being alone causes depression which can hurt the recovery of patients. Finally, health is the life; everyone should realise this fundamental principle. The students must be able to handle the pressure of getting good grades; they should focus on their studies by utilising their intellectual capabilities without relying on prescription stimulants. Similarly, sportsmen and athletes must be aware of harmful effects of prescription stimulants, as they are not proven performance enhancer instead they are injurious to both mental and physical. Finally, in the light of the discussion, it is concluded that students and athletes must not take prescription stimulants for performance-enhancing purposes. The prescription stimulants are used for patients with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or ADD(Attention Deficit Disorder)
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