Some students in the faculty of medicine at the University of Sherbrooke have admitted to Radio-Canada they use Ritalin without a prescription to help them concentrate while studying.
The French-language network spoke with several students, some of whom said the practice is widespread.
A young medical student who did not want to be identified said he took Ritalin because he was so tired before the exams he could barely study.
One of his colleagues, who also didn't want to be named, said he and his girlfriend have also used the drug without a prescription to help them study.
He said it's a common practice, and some friends told him it would help him concentrate.
The president and CEO of the Quebec College of Physicians, Charles Bernard, said the use of Ritalin without a prescription is unacceptable.
"Students in medicine have to have judgment, and I think it's a lack of judgment to take medication for those reasons," Bernard said.
Meanwhile, other medical schools across the province report that they are aware that the use of caffeine pills or stimulants is common. But they said they have not heard about the use of Ritalin without a prescription among their students.
The dean of medicine at the University of Sherbrooke, Pierre Cossette, said he will ask students to find better ways to deal with exam stress.
"It's not that dangerous to take Ritalin, and it's not my concern. My concern would be if it proves that there is a real problem with Ritalin, which we're not sure yet, because we don't know how many [are taking it], if some are taking [it], the real concern is how to learn to deal with stress in a healthy way," Cossette said.