Over 40% of students in Newcastle University believe that taking study aid drugs during term time does not amount to an unfair advantage, a survey conducted by The Courier has found.
From the 80 students who filled in the survey, 70% have not used study drugs before. Out of the 30% who have, 79% have said that they only use them on the odd occasion that they need them. 12% used them the majority of time during term time, and only 8% have reported using them all the time during their studies.
These results come as 93% of students said they had never used a drug testing kit after they were introduced in the Union, and just under a third were aware that they could buy their drug testing kits from the Student Advice Centre.
“I found it hard getting up early and spending all day revising in the library so I decided to buy some modafinil off the Internet in my final year after hearing good things about them from some mates,” one of the anonymous respondents in the survey said. “Studying Biomed, I knew that they were a novel therapeutic for many diseases including bipolar disorder and myalgic encephalopathy so I thought it was pretty safe.
“When I first took, I found that I was really jumpy and restless for the whole morning, finding it hard to do any work. However in the afternoon I settled down and worked really solidly. It did wonders for my dissertation - I literally sat there and cracked it out.
“I only did it a few times though as I found the restless period really unsettling and difficult. I wouldn’t say the effect was hugely noticeable but it does help with studying.”
Out of the 29% of students, who said they had used study drugs before, 62% said they had experienced minor side effects, such as headaches, while 16% said that they had experienced significant side effects.
“They made my anxiety really bad afterwards,” one respondent has said in the survey.
25% of all surveyed students believed that the study aids provided those who take them with an “unfair advantage” over their peers.
“It’s disrespectful to people who are actually prescribed the drugs due to need and it’s cheating,” one respondent said. Others described the taking of study drugs as “cheating” and “disrespectful” and something that “should be penalised.”
The results from the study drug survey come after members of Students for Sensible Drug Policies in Newcastle University have introduced accessible drug testing kits, setting a national precedent.
Luke Allison, Welfare and Equality officer at Newcastle University said: “This re-iterates that some students do use drugs and not only recreationally. I think its important, looking forward to future exam seasons, to provide further information around study drugs and the risks students take by using them.”
Studies have shown that so-called study aides do not increase intelligence, but performance and concentration.
“Study drugs have been shown to be effective to increase concentration but not ability - thus they are merely allowing students to focus for an extended period of time. It doesn’t amount to cheating,” another anonymous respondent said in The Courier’s survey.
Study drugs are normally prescribed for genuine medical conditions – for example Modafinil, one of the most widely used study aids, is a prescription-only medication for narcolepsy that the NHS’s website describes as “a central nervous system stimulant” that prevents “excessive sleepiness during daytime hours”.