Study Drugs


About Study Drugs

(adapted from the University of Texas)

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. UCSC Police Department, Student Judicial Affairs and the City of Santa Cruz 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 college campuses. 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 UCSC survey found that the majority (87%) of students do not use study drugs. Many Slugs 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 Academic Resource Center for tutoring, study strategies, and help with time management skills. Visit Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) for help dealing with stress and anxiety.

Having problems with your ability to concentrate?

Make an appointment with SHOP or the Student Health Center to talk to a healthcare provider. They can help you figure out your next steps and identify resources at UCSC.

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

Resources at UCSC

Emergency response available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Student Health Outreach & Promotion (SHOP)
SHOP provides confidential appointments for drug or alcohol concerns. SHOP is located in the Student Health Center, across the street from Colleges 9 & 10. As you walk up the ramp to the Health Center, SHOP is located in the building on your left, next to the Pharmacy.

Student Health Services
Confidential walk-in or appointment health care

Counseling & Psychological Services
CAPS staff provides the UCSC community with a wide range of mental health services, including short-term individual and couples counseling, group counseling, crisis assessment and intervention, and referral services.

Resources in Santa Cruz

Recovery Wave
Santa Cruz County's Alcohol and Drug Abuse help pages. If you think that you, a family member, or a friend has an alcohol or drug problem, you've come to the right place.

Alcoholics Anonymous
Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.

The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety. 

Narcotics Anonymous
831-429-7436 HOTLINE (24 hour)
Call for current open meeting schedules. Disabled Accessibility.

Marijuana Anonymous
P.O. Box 1481
Santa Cruz, CA 95061

SC Hotline/Meetings:
Self-help (non-religious) fellowship group for those who cannot control their cannabis use and are experiencing adverse effects in other areas of their life. No fee is charged.