Can I Share My Ritalin?

pills on an rx prescription pad

As college finals loom menacingly on the horizon, college students throughout California are looking for any edge to make sure they pass. For some, that means pulling all nighters to study as much as possible. For others, it means getting on a liquid diet of nothing but coffee. But for some students, it means taking pills to make sure they stay awake and focused.

While college students are certainly not the only population to abuse prescription medication, the use of “study pills” makes the headlines every spring. The pills — namely Adderall, Ritalin and Vyvanse — are used to treat ADD and ADHD. Whether students buy them (sometimes at up to $20 a pill) or get them for free from friends, taking medicine that is not prescribed to you is illegal in California and beyond.

How These Drugs Work

As we mentioned before, “study drugs” are generally stimulants used to help those with ADD and ADHD focus on their work.  Approximately 2.5 million Americans take these drugs legally, with more prescriptions written every year. In fact, the production of Adderall, the most well-known AD(H)D medication, increased by 9 million percent over the past decade.

These medicines, which often include amphetamine, work by stimulating certain chemical receptors in the brain, mimicking certain hormones like adrenaline. However, it is still not known how or why these drugs actually help those with AD(H)D. Doctors know that it works, which is why they are prescribed, and formulas are constantly revised to be more helpful for those with prescriptions.

However, study drugs are not without their side effects. Because they mimic adrenaline and other hormones, they tend to curb hunger. As such, some abusers, specifically women, use these drugs to lose weight in a very unhealthy way. Because study drugs are used to keep abusers awake, prolonged use can lead to insomnia as well. They can also increase your heart rate and blood pressure, and can therefore be dangerous — or even deadly — for those who have heart problems.

Who Are the Culprits?

The most common abusers of study drugs are white members of fraternities and sororities. In about 75 percent of cases, the drugs are used for academic purposes. However, in many cases, study drugs are used for recreational purposes. According to recent research, abusers may use the drugs to get high, to experiment or just to make them more sociable.

Is It Really Illegal?

For those with a prescription for AD(H)D medication, it may seem like sharing with friends so they can study or just have a good time is relatively harmless. After all, it’s not like you’re selling cocaine, right? Not so fast. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration lists study drugs as Schedule II substances, right alongside hydrocodone and morphine. In California, illegal possession and sale of Schedule II substances is covered by quite a few laws — in addition to potential federal penalties.

  • First is Health & Safety (HS) Code 11350, possession of a controlled substance. If you have a bottle of the pills, and the bottle doesn’t have your name on it, or you simply don’t have a valid prescription, you could face these charges. Usually, this crime is tried as a misdemeanor, with a possible maximum penalty of a year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
  • If prosecutors can prove you had intent to sell study drugs, you may be found guilty under HS 11351. Clues for crime include having pills divided in bags, records of sales, having more than one bottle or otherwise having a large quantity of drugs. This kind of conviction may come with a prison sentence of two to four years and/or a maximum fine of $20,000.
  • Sale, distribution (even for free) and transportation for sale of these drugs is covered under HS 11352. Under this law, anyone found guilty may face three to nine years in prison and/or a fine up to $20,000.

There are also laws that cover possession of drugs with a firearm or while committing a different crime, but these are the main codes that are relevant to study drugs.

The message is clear: If you have a prescription for Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse or other AD(H)D medications, keep it to yourself. If you don’t, find a different way to focus on studying for your finals. If you are charged with any kind of drug crime in San Luis Obispo, don’t face the courts alone. Contact MBLK Law Firm today for a free consultation.

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