College students reveal their favorite study drugs and why they're the best

College students reveal their favorite study drugs and why they're the best

VicesDecember 01, 2017 By Lindsey Kline

They say in college you can choose only two of these three options: sleep, a social life or good grades.

But today’s university students refuse to sacrifice a single one. Instead, they’re still partying, sleeping plenty, and increasingly turning to study drugs to get their schoolwork done in short spurts of super-productivity. ADHD medications like Adderall and Ritalin have become more prevalent on college campuses than ever before, but they’re not the only drugs students are utilizing to boost their GPA.

When we asked several students what drugs they take to study, how often they take them, and why, their responses were all over the board. Whether they swear by marijuana, Adderall, LSD or cocaine, it seems that come finals week, our college population is both overworked and overdrugged.

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Noah, 22

What’s your favorite study drug?
Marijuana

Why marijuana?
Weed is my medicine. It normalizes me and evens me out. When I smoke, I also seem to be able to read better and focus more on one thing. I think I’ve found the threshold where I can get the benefits from weed but not necessarily get that dysfunctional stoned feeling.

Why did you start smoking weed to help you study?
Once I started music school, I became extremely focused and started studying way more often. I’m a creative person, so I felt like weed helped me embrace the chaotic nature of trying to develop this extremely difficult skill.

How much money do you usually spend on it?
About 80 bucks a month. A buddy and I will search town for the best dispensary deals we can find, and then we’ll usually split the cost of an ounce.

What does a typical study session look like?
I don’t necessarily have sessions. If I’m in school, I’m spending every waking minute reading textbooks and sheet music, writing chords and papers, or practicing playing. You can really punish yourself studying music, but weed helps me manage the stress.

Do you think a lot of students are using drugs to help them study?
Oh yeah. I think of all the study drugs college kids could be doing, weed is probably the best. Everyone around me is hooked on caffeine. Sometimes I even think the university is trying to push it on us, putting a Starbucks on every street corner.

Occasionally, the day before a big exam I’ll study with a bowl and Yerba Mate. At this point, I’ve established a tolerance to both weed and caffeine, so they don’t make a huge difference in my state of mind.

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Jesse, 21

Whats your favorite study drug?
For years, it was Adderall. But I recently quit.

Why Adderall?
I’ve been on some form of Adderall since I was in elementary school. I was diagnosed with ADD in third grade, and couldn’t really stay focused without it. On Adderall, I’d go on these rampages of productivity where I’d have crazy concentration and super-fast typing speed.

How much money would you usually spend on it?
Insurance made it pretty cheap. Usually only 20 bucks for a bottle of 30 pills.

So why’d you quit?
Eventually I realized it was making me too energized... too on edge. I’m normally a very easy-going person, but on Adderall I was moody, overly sensitive, and super intense. Also, even though I was on a low dosage, I was losing way too much weight. So I told myself, “from now on, when I wanna study I’ll just have coffee.”

Was it more difficult to study after you quit?
Definitely. Immediately after quitting, I realized Adderall made my ADD symptoms worse when I wasn’t on it. But at that point, I’d created a dependence and I really couldn’t study without it. It took me a while to teach myself to get my shit together without needing a drug.

What does a typical study session look like for you now?
I need at least 3 espresso shots to get started, so first I’ll buy a large latte from Starbucks. Then, I’ll sit down on my bed, put on some pleasant music, and get to work. I take occasional study breaks to smoke [weed] because it helps me de-stress and keeps me from getting too anxious.

Occasionally, I’ll still take an Adderall for mid-terms or finals. I admit it can be useful to study, but everyday use is just not an option for me anymore.

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James, 25

What’s your favorite study drug?
Definitely LSD

Why LSD?
Originally, I was taking Vyvanse and other ADHD medications to concentrate, but I’d become extremely jittery, I’d never eat, and I just felt unhealthy. When I ended up microdosing LSD, it didn’t affect my appetite at all and I could think about solutions to problems in ways that I hadn’t before.

What’s microdosing LSD feel like?
It’s a little stimulatory, kinda like your morning coffee except it lasts all day and it feels a lot cleaner.

What is your usual dosage?
It’s 10 micrograms. To put that into perspective, an active dose would be 100 micrograms. When I first began experimenting with the dosage, I started out with 20, but I was too much in my own head.

How many times did you mess up before you found the right dose?
Only two or three. At first it took me a while, because when I initially tried microdosing, I had to dilute the LSD myself by cutting tabs into 10ths.

But with tabs, the solution doesn’t always saturate evenly. So my first week of school, I was actually tripping on campus and in my classes. When my professor would erase his work from the chalkboard, the light white residue that was left behind looked like white clouds coming off the chalkboard and floating all around him. It was really distracting.

After those failed attempts, why were you still so convinced that LSD was your study drug?
I knew microdosing would be worthwhile. As a scientist, I’ve always been fascinated by the mechanism of action of LSD. On LSD, your brain is hyperconnected — extended use increases cell to cell signaling, it protects your neurons, and it increases synaptic connections. Essentially, on LSD portions of your brain are talking to each other more than ever.

How much money do you usually spend on it?
I’ll spend like 80 dollars buying 1000 micrograms. It comes in a ready-made solution where one milliliter equals one microgram, and it’s way more effective than cutting up tabs. The person I buy it from makes the solution specifically for microdosing. This stuff really wouldn’t be fun to drink if you’re trying to trip. It tastes like gasoline.

What would a typical study session look like?
Right now I’m taking a break. But when I was using it during my semester at CU, I would only take it on school days. I’d take my dose first thing in the morning and it lasts all day. I saw the most improvement in my philosophy of ethics and molecular neurobiology classes.

Do you think a lot of students are using drugs to help them study?
Yeah, I don’t think it’s a secret. A lot of students use ADHD medication. It’s not hard to get. All students end up doing something to study, but I feel like I have to justify my drug usage.

I’m relatively open about using LSD as a study tool. I probably wouldn’t tell my employer, but I’ve told my parents, my friends, even the people at my church. And no one can really argue against it when I have the science to back it up.

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Cody, 24

What’s your favorite study drug?
Probably cocaine.

Why cocaine?
I use coke for the same reasons anyone else uses coffee or Adderall. It’s a stimulant, it gets the wheels turning in your head, and it lights a fire under your ass.

I’m the type of person to procrastinate until the very last minute. The night before an exam, I don’t want to pop an Addy, stay up all night, and totally fuck up my sleep schedule. Coke is only about an hour commitment, so I can do a few bumps, churn out an assignment, and get to bed by 2 or 3.

Why did you start doing bumps to help you study?
I used to use Adderall to write my big papers, but during finals week of my junior year I found myself in a bind. I had no more Addy and all my friends with prescriptions had already sold their supply. I knew coffee wasn’t enough to keep me focused, so in a bit of desperation, I dusted off an old baggie of coke I had stuffed away in my desk drawer and gave it a sniff.

Writing big papers is usually such a difficult process for me. I overthink every word and get stuck after every other sentence. But with a little bit of coke in my system, the words and ideas came to me so effortlessly. I think it lowered my inhibitions and gave me the confidence I needed not to overanalyze every little detail.

How much money do you usually spend on it?
I’ve got a buddy who hooks it up. I’ll usually spend 60 on a gram, and that’ll last me a month or two. I don’t do it often, and when I do, I won’t use very much.

What does a typical study session look like?
For me, school is 90% fucking around, 10% cramming for a big assignment I almost forgot about. The night before it’s due, I’ll usually lock myself in my room, bump, work, bump, work, bump, work, pass out.

Do you think a lot of students are using drugs to help them study?
Practically everyone I know uses Adderall, Ritalin, or Vyvanse to get their big projects done. Nowadays it seems like anyone who isn’t taking advantage of ADD meds is kind of a sucker. Everyone else is using it to get ahead, and making you look like shit in comparison.