Special Report: Study Steroids - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Special Report: Study Steroids

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

ADHD drugs are better known by students as 'college crack' or "study steroids." They stimulate dopamine production in the brain, which heightens focus whether or not you actually have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Stephanie Dobbs has ADHD and says, "I've had people offer money and say I'll give you this for the drug."

She laughs off offers for her Ritalin, with finals around the corner. "I would think I would get a few" she says.

Stephanie struggled focusing through long lectures during her first year at UH Manoa, but stopped taking meds because of the side effects. As she describes, "The side effects really bothered me. I got really bad migraines. I'd be shaky. I'd lose my appetite."

Stimulants can cause sleep problems, which is a draw for students pulling all nighters. Even Stephanie's boyfriend Steven Garrett has been approached by classmates at HCC willing to pay a premium for a pill. "They say oh you have friends with ADHD" explains Steven. "Do you think they would slip you a couple of pills so I could have some? The going rate was about 20 or up."

HPU Senior Joshua Carver has tried Adderall and tells us, "When I've gotten it, it's been 10. Considering how prescription drugs are being passed out these days, it's no shock. Honestly, the students who are buying could just go to the doctor and say I have this, this and this and most likely, they would get a prescription for it anyways."

Between 2007 and 2011, ADHD drug presciptions shot up 39 percent from 34 to 48 million. A doctor tells Hawaii News Now Adderall is probably the most abused drug, prescribed or street, in schools nationwide today.

According to Dr. Karen Tyson from the LD, ADHD Center of Hawaii, "It is still going to give that body a jolt of that attention so unfortunately it is sought out by college students and professionals as a performance drug."

UH Professor Doug McCulloch has ADHD and says another side effect, loss of appetite, has appeal too. He told us, "I lost a ton of weight when I first started taking so one of my wife's co-workers said wow I wonder if i could get some."

Some drugs have reached cult status with slogans like "Adderall, can't pass without it." Doctors warn anyone without ADHD should pass on these meds. Dr. Tyson explains, "You don't know what the side effects are going to be if you're not taking it as prescribed so I really, really caution people to not do it."

Side effects range from twitching and hallucinations to heart attack and addiction. Lindsay Lohan actually refused to go to rehab because she couldn't take her Adderall with her.

It's abused so much, doctors say there are often shortages for people who really need it.

Copyright 2013 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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