By: Sukhman Rekhi
We all know what it’s like to be a student on the quarter system. You blink an eye on the first day of school and suddenly it’s week three and midterm season is here. With most of us balancing three to four classes, not to mention our social lives and sanity, sometimes it’s just easier to find a quick fix to focus and cram for these exams. But at what cost?
Adderall, otherwise known by its street name “Addy”, is a prescription drug for patients diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. But on college campuses, it’s often classified as the “study drug” and is widely used and abused by students who hope to temporarily increase their level of concentration.
At this point you may be thinking that there’s absolutely no way that there are enough people using Adderall for it to be this big of an issue, but the research prove otherwise. In fact, a study found that nearly 62% of undergraduates are offered to use Adderall non-medically and an average of 31% of these university-level students misuse the drug to enhance their focus while studying . To put that into perspective, there are approximately 20.5 million Americans that are pursuing a college education as of Fall 2016, which means over 6.3 million undergraduates are falling victim to its abuse . But if so many students are using it, how bad can it really be?
According to a 2008 study, 81% of the 1800 students that were interviewed believed that Adderall was either “not dangerous” or “slightly dangerous” . College students also carry the assumption that this stimulant is safer than other illicit drugs such as marijuana or opioids and can improve academic performance. Contrary to popular belief, physicians around the country have found that high doses of Adderall can actually cause an irregular heartbeat, seizures and in severe cases, heart attack. Nonmedical use of the drug has also proven to be associated with excessive alcohol abuse, psychiatric distress, and quite surprisingly, a lower GPA than students not taking the stimulant .
As the rate of Adderall usage is estimated to steadily grow, public health officials are not only concerned about the current well-being of students using the drug, but are also worried about the lack of knowledge regarding the long-term effects that Adderall may produce. These researchers are also urging physicians to start monitoring the number of prescriptions that they are handing out to ADHD patients and are lobbying for policy makers to initiate campaigns that educate adolescents about the adverse effects of common street drugs .
But for now, maybe it’s time to lay off the Addy and hop on the coffee because it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
1. "Nonmedical Use of Adderall Among Full-Time College Students." National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 7 Apr. 2009. Web. 23 Jan. 2017.
2. "Back to School Statistics ." National Center for Education Statistics. US Department of Education, 2016. Web. 24 Jan. 2017. <https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372>.
3. Desantis, Alan D., Elizabeth M. Webb, and Seth M. Noar. 2008. Illicit Use of Prescription ADHD Medications on a College Campus: A Multimethodological Approach. Journal of American College Health. 57.3: 315-24.
4. "Nonmedical Use of Prescription Stimulants." Medicine Abuse Project. Center on Young Adult Health and Development, 2014. Web. 23 Jan. 2017.
5. Benham, Barbara. "Adderall Misuse Rising Among Young Adults." Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. John Hopkins University, 16 Feb. 2016. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.