Exams are just around the corner, and for many Denison students that means little sleep with added stress and anxiety. While it’s not uncommon for the typical college student to survive all night study sessions with the help of a little extra sugar and caffeine, a few will turn to something far more risky: prescription drugs.
Although most college students use prescription drugs as prescribed, about one in four people aged 18 to 20 report using these inappropriately. In the most recent college health assessment 19% of Denison students reported using prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them.
Campus life can be stressful and most students mistakenly believe that prescription drugs are safe just because they are legal (if prescribed to the student using them). You may believe popping a pill might give you an edge when it comes to improving academic performance, but serious risks of misusing or abusing prescription drugs are underestimated.
When prescription medicines are misused or taken without a doctor’s prescription, or taken in combination with alcohol, they can be just as harmful as illegal street drugs like cocaine and heroin. Misusing prescription drugs is illegal and can cause adverse health effects ranging from increases in blood pressure and heart rate to overdose, organ damage, seizures, and sometimes even death.
The Whisler Center for Student Wellness recommends that students combat stress by getting an early start, studying with friends, seeking out a tutor if needed, and focusing on proper nutrition and rest in the weeks leading up to exams. If students are having trouble handling the pressure of exams, they are encouraged to talk to with their professors, resident assistant (RA) or a member of campus health services.
Students are also urged to keep their own prescription medications in a safe place and not be pressured into sharing medicines with roommates and friends. The Denison Library and The Whisler Center for Student Wellness will co-sponsor the next De-Stress Fest on Wednesday April 27 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. in the Library and will offer free chair massages, pet therapy, crafts, coloring, and snacks.
Seven Quick and Easy Ways to Manage Stress
- Eat healthy foods including fresh fruits, vegetables and lean protein. This will improve your energy and ability to think clearly.
- Stay active. Exercise is one of the best ways to beat stress. Even a few minutes every day can help.
- Study with friends. Being in a group will help you feel less isolated, and you may even have a little fun.
- Build in time for breaks. Take a few minutes to take a walk, practice deep breathing or other relaxing activities that help you clear your head and feel reenergized.
- Get plenty of rest. You might not be able to get as much sleep as you’re used to, but aim for at least 6-7 hours each night. People who are well rested do better on exams.
- Avoid using any drugs or alcohol. They can cloud your mental abilities and actually harm your performance.
- Get support. Turn to family and friends for support during this exciting, yet challenging time in your life. Remember just do the best you can do.