The workload at schools such as BSGE can get quite heavy. Students go to school and work all day, come home, start homework, and often finish just in time to get a few hours of sleep. There is almost no time to spend it with friends or any other after school activity. The more years that pass, the more work there is and the less sleep students get. Staying up late at night to finish all the homework assigned can be a struggle for some. Thus, it is common for high schoolers and college students to seek ways to keep themselves awake through the night.
Caffeine, energy drinks, and even drugs are frequently consumed by students to keep themselves up for hours. These substances, though seemingly helpful, can be extremely dangerous. An anonymous BSGE student says, “Even though I don’t like admitting it, I do things to keep me up later. I only use energy drinks but I would be willing to use other ways. I know it’s not healthy, but its helpful.” Some of the common energy drinks are Five Hour Energy, Monster and Red Bull. These are available in almost every convenience store and are easy to get a hand on. Although these drinks don’t seem very harmful, NBC reported otherwise. After only consuming two cans of Monster, fourteen-year-old Anais Fournier went into cardiac arrest. Six days later, she was pronounced dead. Though Anais had a known heart issue, drinking the energy drink may have driven her to her death.
The New York Times previously reported on this topic. The newspaper invited students to send them personal stories of abusing prescription drugs for “academic advantage.” They received over 200 submissions. The submissions displayed how ambitious and intelligent students often take certain drugs to help them perform well in school. Aware of the consequences, these students took them due to the pressure from school work. Although the public views students that abuse these drugs as “bad kids,” the majority are actually responsible and smart kids that simply want to do well in school.
One drug that is commonly used by high schoolers is Adderall. Adderall is a drug that is commonly used to treat Narcolepsy and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, the combination that creates the drug, are central nervous system stimulants that affect chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control. This is what causes the student to stay up for long periods of time. It can become a serious addiction, just like cocaine or heroine. ABC News dedicated an article to Kyle Craig, a student that ended his life after using this drug. The use of the drug began with simply using it to study for tests and then go to parties during the night. Soon enough, Craig began to take abnormally large amounts of the drug. At 21, it claimed his life.
There are a variety of legal drugs like Adderall used by students in high school. Concerta, like Adderall, is a medication taken by people with ADHD. This drug does not have as strong of an effect but it is cheaper than Adderall. Similarly, it allows a person to be more awake, aware and concentrated. When a BSGE student, who prefers to remain anonymous, was asked about these types of drugs, he replied with the following: “In a school like BSGE, the state of constant sleep deprivation, stress over academics, and never-ending amounts of homework can really break a student down to the point where they no longer have the motivation to complete work on their own. It really prompts the question of why not use study drugs?”
The student continued, “I do admit that I occasionally use Concerta on nights when there’s a suffocating amount of work to do. But I would say that the percentage of students who use study drugs in BSGE is much lower compared to schools like Stuyvesant or Bronx Science in which the competition against peers is just cut-throat. In those kinds of atmospheres, not using a study drug ends up being a disadvantage for mostly yourself.”
While consuming energy drinks may be considered a harmless activity and cannot be compared to the risk of consuming drugs, both can end up being dangerous to one’s health. Instead of taking these supplements, students should seek ways to manage their school workload. One way to achieve this is by not procrastinating and completing homework earlier. If time is still an issue, doing homework on the train, in advisory or during lunch is much better than resorting to drugs or energy drinks.