A researcher who found 6% of University of Auckland students
had used drugs to boost academic performance believes the
practice is probably just as prevalent in Dunedin.
The survey of 400 students found Ritalin, which is prescribed
to people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
(ADHD), was the drug most commonly used as a study aid. The
study comes after University of Otago student Druvi Patrick
Rodrigo, who admitted supplying Ritalin to classmates, had
his conviction and sentence quashed in March by the Court of
Appeal, which found his offending to be ''at the low end''.
Senior lecturer at the University of Auckland's school of
pharmacy and an author of the survey, Dr Bruce Russell,
believed a similar proportion of Otago University students as
in Auckland would have used drugs to boost academic
''I would be extremely surprised if there wasn't,'' Dr
The survey's finding that 6% of students had used ''cognitive
enhancer'' drugs suggested their use was not as common as an
the United States and United Kingdom, where it was easier to
get hold of the drugs.
While neutral on the ethics of academic doping, Dr Russell
felt it was important people were aware of the issue.
''I think there needs to be a discussion around it and people
need to be aware that these drugs are out there.''
Dr Russell said he was concerned ''that people will use
cognitive enhancers to the point where they perceive a need
for them and then use them in an almost addictive manner''.
Around 12,000 people received prescriptions for stimulants
used to treat ADHD in the year to June 2013.
Any attempt to sell a controlled drug or to obtain it without
a prescription is a crime under the Misuse of Drugs Act, and
it is illegal for controlled drugs to be imported by members
of the public.
Detective Senior Sergeant Malcolm Inglis, of Dunedin, said he
had not heard of Ritalin use being an issue among Otago
''Ritalin is still a major problem. The drug is sold and
dealt in the drug community but it is something we haven't
heard of appearing within the student community'' Det Snr Sgt
- additional reporting The New Zealand Herald