Prevalence of students’ abuse of Adderall

Josette Corazza

Although the rush of midterms has passed, some students are still in the midst of studying for those last few exams. Some students will turn towards Adderall for those long, late nights spent in Leyburn, although they do not have a prescription for the drug. Adderall is an amphetamine- based stimulant prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

In college, many students rely on the drug to help them study and stay focused. According to the Journal of American College Health, by senior year, nearly two-thirds of college students are offered Adderall or other drugs to help them study, and nearly one-third have accepted. However, students really should not be relying on Adderall as a study drug.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, anyone who uses a prescription drug without a pre- scription runs the risk of experiencing dangerous side effects such as increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, nervousness, insomnia, hallucinations, impulsive behavior, paranoia and irritability. If a student were to take Adderall each time they studied for a test, the habit could very quickly lead to dependency. Withdrawal symptoms are seen after just a few doses.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry last February found Adderall use among adults who don’t have ADHD (most ranging from 18 to 25 years old) increased by 67 percent in recent years. It is estimated that only four to five percent of American adults are diagnosed with ADHD. Emergency room visits related to Adderall rose 156 percent from 2006 to 2011, largely driven by a spike in adults misusing the drugs. Obtaining Adderall illegally without a prescription is another problem with the trend, as it can land students in serious trouble.

Adderall is not only dangerous to use; it rarely produces the effect it is thought to have on students. The drug is made for people with ADHD, and it has a calming effect on them due to its induced increase of dopamine in the brain.

For those without ADHD, the drug is more likely to cause restlessness and euphoria, because these people already have enough dopamine. Mostly due to the dopamine, Adderall gives users an inflated sense of productiv- ity. But the drug has been proven in a study from the University of Pennsylvania that the drug only makes people think they are performing better. Those who took a memorization test while on Adderall in the study did not perform any better than those who had taken a placebo pill.

In addition to this, students who use the drug on occasion for studying purposes are much more likely to experience a crash once its effects have worn off. Not only are you failing to enhance your academic performance, you are also subjecting yourself to a nasty crash that can be difficult to rebound from.

Instead of relying on Adderall, there are better alternatives that can boost academic performance. Try to limit your time spent on social media or looking at your phone, and try (as hard as it sometimes may be) to get an adequate amount of sleep every night. Eat a balanced and healthy diet and limit your caffeine intake. Try to take a little break each day to relax and remind yourself that you can accomplish all your academic tasks, without the added stress of possible dangerous side effects and honor violations.