On Campus

Academic doping on the rise in Canada

More students using drugs to enhance academic performance

A story in the National Post suggests that illicit drug use to enhance their performance on exams and academic demands is on the rise among university students across Canada.

The article cites a random survey done at McGill University, which revealed that 5.4 per cent of 400 students had used a “study drug” to enhance their academic performance at least once. However, some estimates of drug use to increase student performance are even higher. According to the Post, “study drugs” are slowly becoming “entrenched on campuses” across Canada.

But do they actually work? Do the drugs help increase student performance on tests and assignments?

“It was definitely extremely helpful. I’ve never focused like that before in my life,” said a first-year student at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. “I was able to sit in a chair for eight hours, concentrate on the work, brainstorm more effectively.”

Another student quoted in the article claims the use of drugs to improve academic performance is wide-spread among numerous schools, including the University of Toronto and Wilfrid Laurier in Waterloo, Ontario.

The student claims the drugs come from other students who have a prescription for some of the commonly used drugs, including Adderall and Ritalin. A psychiatrist at the University of Toronto said that an estimated one in four of his university patients admit to sharing some of their prescription drugs to friends.

“I think it’s becoming a bigger difficulty in universities, particularly around entry to professional schools,” said Dr. Jain. “This is something that needs to be addressed, both in terms of university policy and in terms of physicians prescribing . . . These are not innocuous medications.”

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.