It’s that time of year again: The 2012 Summer Fiction reception will be Thursday, August 16, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Tre Piani restaurant in Princeton Forrestal Village. It’s free, informal, and you are invited. Don’t RSVP — just stop by.
Introductions of the writers and readings by the poets published in our Summer Fiction issue on July 25 will begin at around 6 p.m. We will have extra copies of the issue on hand. See you there.
To the Editor
Drugs & Students
As the academic year approaches, many students will be challenged by a recurring specter that haunts many campuses throughout the country. It is the specter of drug abuse, but more specifically psychoactive stimulants such as methlyphenidate (e.g., Ritalin) and amphetamine salts (e.g., Adderall) with the “good students.” These stimulants are used by students to increase alertness and help with concentration.
This topic was a hotbed of discussion this summer when a New York Times article on June 9 claimed that stimulant drug abuse is a growing problem after conducting a study on 200 students. However, Time magazine published an article a few days later stating that the study had insufficient data to suggest any sort of trend. Regardless, the misuse of amphetamines has always been a well-known problem amongst students since the 1990s. For many students, they are harmless and ideal drugs because their rewards are immediate and their effects are short-term. Another major issue is that there is really not much profound scientific or medical literature to go against the mainstream perception of these drugs.
Until there is some groundbreaking science to cause such a paradigm shift, it is apparent that students will do what they have to in order to succeed. As pointed out in a 2005 New York Times article, even at prestigious schools like Columbia University, competition is so fierce that students find they have no choice but to use these drugs. These students, who are obviously some of the brightest in the country, know these drugs are illegal and reluctantly admit that they can act like steroids for the brain.
Ultimately, the question that students need to ask themselves is whether they can honestly live without non-prescription stimulants? It is very important to understand that these drugs are directly acting on the brain, which is very sensitive and highly regulated by its own chemical environment.
As a neuroscience professor at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School once mentioned at the beginning of the course, our understanding of the brain is a “mess.” And it’s true in a way because although advancements have been made in understanding these drugs, there is still so much uncertainty especially with regard to long-term health risks. At present, this is really the only medical basis for any argument against using these drugs.
Princeton Junction, NJ
The writer, who majored in neuroscience at Rutgers, Class of 2004, is a third-year medical student.