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Students see pills as study aid, officials warn of growing trend

Tuesday - 5/14/2013, 4:06pm  ET

ANNANDALE, Va. - It's time for final exams and as sure as some kids will cram the night before a test, some high school and college students will look for help from little blue and yellow pills.

Adderall and Ritalin, drugs that are used to treat attention deficit disorders, are the drugs of choice among some students facing finals.

"It's exam time, its crunch time, so I'm going stay up for two or three days straight and I'm going to take this pill and I'm going to concentrate and study and I'm going to pass my test," says Sergeant James Cox, Fairfax County Police narcotics officer describing the strained logic students use when they abuse prescription drugs to study for final exams.

When it comes to prescription drug abuse in the Washington area and across the country, pain killers like Oxycontin are the drugs of choice. But Ritalin and Adderall are the two most commonly abused stimulants on high school and college campuses.

"This is something that we see happening particularly during exam periods when kids think they're going to take them for focusing," says Amy Reif, health sector coordinator for the Unified Prevention Coalition of Fairfax County, a group devoted to discouraging drug abuse among young people.

Cox says those selling Adderall and Ritalin to students include "hard core drug dealers" and fellow students whose aim is to just help a friend study for his finals.

"They tell these kids it's actually going to help the mind to concentrate and to stay up for long periods of time," Cox says.

The drugs are typically sold for $20 to $30 per pill.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified prescription drug abuse as an epidemic in the United States.

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