March 10, 2010
The new drug problem
Through informal conversations with colleagues at a number of schools, I have become aware of the widespread abuse of prescription drugs by law students. Not just any type of prescription drug, either, but psychostimulants such as Ritalin, which are normally prescribed for ADHD. Physically, these drugs can enhance academic performance by stimulating the nervous system and increasing focus. (If you doubt that these drugs are being used at your school, ask a few students if they know of anyone using them-- the answers may surprise you).
Two problems rise out of this abuse. First, the students who use these drugs risk physical harm and addiction, as with any other misused drug. Second, it skews our measurement of performance, much the same way that steroids skew athletic contests.
Should schools take pro-active measures to cut down on this type of drug abuse? If so, what is possible short of random drug tests of our students, something few if any schools would be willing to undertake?
-- Mark Osler