According to The New Paper, some secondary school students are abusing mental stimulant drugs to prepare for examinations, albeit claiming that they use them only as ‘last resort’.
The New Paper spoke to Jason, a 14-year-old Secondary 3 student from a top school, who has been taking pills containing methylphenidate (a mental stimulant meant to treat people with attention deficit hyperactive disorder [ADHD], although he does not suffer from the disorder himself.
Jason claimed that with all his time spent in class, tuition and on co-curricular activities, he has had little time left to prepare for his upcoming mid-year examination, and that taking these pills makes it “extremely easy” to get work done.
Said Jason: “I start to feel jittery when I take it but suddenly, I can easily set my mind on any task and get it done.”
“For example, the drug makes me want to redo the same questions again and again, which is great for mathematics. I don’t get distracted by the computer or T.V. too.”
Jason belongs to a group of students who have been taking methylphenidate as a way to cope with their schoolwork. They found out about it from a website last year and one of the members in his group buys it from an online black market.
The students’ parents do not know that they are using methylphenidate illictly to help them with their studies, but Jason insists that it is not wrong for them to do so.
He claims they take the pill only during exam periods and as a last resort.
“We are not dependent on it,” said Jason, adding that he and his associates do not take the drug for recreation.
He does not consider his actions as drug misuse and would argue that it is “no different from an ultra strong coffee“.
Neither is it “cheating“, says Jason, as he and his associates, like any other student, have to put in the effort to remember what they have studied.
In Singapore, methylphenidate is classified as a controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act and can be legally obtained from a pharmacist through a doctor’s written prescription following photo identification.
Ms Irene Quay, honorary secretary of the Pharmaceutical Society of Singapore, said that the use of methylphenidate by students for non-medical reasons can result “in a euphoric effect and subsequent craving for repeated use, leading to addiction“.
Worldwide, there have been reports of death following methylphenidate abuse. In a scientific paper that appeared in the Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, the authors warned: “The use of methylphenidate by anyone other than the patient to whom it was prescribed needs to be addressed… The extreme consequences of abuse and addiction, resulting in legal repercussions, psychiatric symptoms and disorders, as well as death and homicide, need to be discussed seriously.”
The bible warns: “There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way that leads to death“. (Proverbs 14:12, NET bible translation). It is indeed worrying that teenagers like Jason seem to take the missuse of stimulant drugs too lightly, risking their health, as well as their lives.