Stimulant use rises during finals week


Photo Illustration by Brad Meyer

By Andrew Maloney

With the approach of finals week comes the need to put in longer hours for term papers, study sessions and general preparation for the end of the semester.

But for some students, the need to stay up late also translates to more caffeine and the use of artificial energy supplements. These study stimulants come in pill or beverage form and include non-prescription drugs, such as Adderall, 5-Hour Energy products or even more run-of-the-mill drinks, including coffee and Red Bull.

Additionally, Walgreens, 407 E. Green St. in Champaign, sells energy pills without a prescription, and representatives from the store say they tend to see a spike in the number of these products that are sold right in advance of finals week.

“We do sell the 5-Hour Energy pills as well as other energy drinks,” said Jeff Roth, an assistant manager at the Campustown location. “We don’t offer anything different during finals week, and we don’t have any specific data on hand, but I’ve been told that sales (of these products) do increase during finals week.”

While some students may opt for the energy pills, Ervin Johnson, a junior in LAS, said he has been a frequent consumer of energy drinks in the past and still gets a daily dose of energy from the beverages.

“Usually, everyday I drink one Red Bull,” Johnson said. “If I have to stay up longer, I drink a 5-Hour Energy drink. It’s more effective.”

Johnson said that if the boost provided by the 5-Hour beverage was not available, he would opt for the bigger can of Red Bull as opposed to the 12 oz. one. He said he normally purchases the drinks at The Quad Shop in the Illini Union or the Green Street Walgreens.

But Johnson, who added that he had been addicted to Red Bull at one point, acknowledges that he is trying to cut back on the number of times he gets a fix from these kinds of energy enhancers.

“The number of Red Bulls I drink during finals would usually increase,” he said. “But I’m trying to stop because I think it’s affecting my health.”

And though a canned energy drink is one way to get an extra kick, some students prefer the more traditional cup of coffee for their stimulus needs.

“I probably average about two or three cups of coffee a day,” said Rachel Warren, also a junior in LAS. “But if I have to stay up late for finals, it’s more like four or five.”

Unlike Johnson though, Warren says that despite problems that the overdose of caffeine may cause, she doesn’t see herself giving up coffee in the near future.

“It’s pretty hard to sleep sometimes because of all the caffeine, but I don’t think I’ll stop drinking it, at least not while I’m in college,” Warren said. “The side-effects do not outweigh the benefits.”