Throughout a person’s schooling it progressively gets more and more difficult, in high school it is relatively easier to deal with however when you make that step from high school to college there is a huge reality check. Classes are a lot harder, studying takes up more time, the class time is less structured and it becomes your own personal responsibility to take care of yourself and to assure that all your work gets finished, you don’t have your parents pressuring you constantly to do your work. A lot of times college students turn to a drug called Adderall for help, which is a medication for ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. ADHD is condition that makes it hard for people to focus and makes them abnormally hyperactive. The medication allows the user to become more focused, be calm, and suppresses activities that would otherwise hinder ones ability to study such as; hunger, thirst and even sleep. When on adderall a person becomes like a robot, only focused on the task at hand pausing for almost nothing. “Students see adderall as slightly more dangerous than the soft drink Mountain Dew and nowhere near as dangerous as drinking or smoking”. (Cooper) The students who don’t think it is that bad for them are a little right and a little wrong at the same time, but since most people look at the drug in such a light view it just seems dumb for them to not use it so they can study, write papers, and expand a day by several hours where they would normally be sleeping.
The drug adderall is so easy to get and so common to use amongst college students that it is almost just an everyday thing. According to USA Today, college students are taking the drug not only for academic purposes but also for a head-trip. In my experience however, the drug is not used for recreation nor have I ever met a person that would take it for recreation, here at the University of Kentucky the use I have seen for the drug is simply for an all night study session or to focus on a particularly long paper. “I am not saying teachers are working against us because they are not but sometimes it just seems like they do not take into consideration my other classes, my extra activities, my fraternity philanthropy requirements or my job when they assign homework”. (Kingsbury) From that quote you can see that as college students we have papers, exams, quizzes, and studying all to worry about all the time from not only one class but usually for three or more and that takes time, time that some people don’t have. We have to eat, sleep, go to class, and some of us have to work even on top of all the homework assigned and that leaves us even less time. On Adderall you eliminate the want to eat or sleep and that frees up a lot more time, on top of that adderall allows you to focus on your task and get it done quickly. The people that have jobs seem to have no time to do anything because they would have anywhere from twelve to eighteen hours of class a week and on average a student is supposed to spend three more hours per class outside of the class, and then on top of that the student would be working something like twenty hours a week and that turns out to be a minimum of fifty-six hours a week of constantly having something to do. Adderall can be an escape from all of the pressure and can help to let students work harder and longer.
As you can see in this image your brain on Adderall is over fifty percent more active than it is off of the substance. With that much more activity its hard to imagine how much more efficient you would be on the drug. However having your brain that active too often or for too long can burn someone out and literally make his or her brain tired.
According to the FDA recent legislation has put limits on the amount of Adderall that can be produced in a year because it has Amphetamines in it, a main ingredient in Meth. Regardless of the limit put on the production of the drug doctors are still prescribing it to huge amounts of people child and adult alike and this is causing there to be a shortage, and not only that but a huge increase in price. A huge part of so many college students using the drug is that it is only about three to five dollars per pill, but with this recent increase in prescription price the cheapness of the drug that makes it so appealing for college students is in jeopardy. Maybe the change in price will help to fight the extent at which Adderall gets abused, if this doesn’t slow down the over use of the drug then nothing will it seems. Using a prescription drug without the prescription is illegal, and could result in up to ten years in jail. However the illegal use of Adderall is hardly policed and very easy to get away with. If a person is taking the drug for better grades and gets caught they can be charged with a felony then all the hard work of getting those grades is wasted because with a felony on your record it is almost impossible to get a decent job. It is just something that takes a person’s own judgment of whether it is worth it or not to take the drug. Yeah it is helpful but having a felony on your record does not look very good.
Apart from the risk of getting in legal trouble there are actual health risks that can cause a multitude of problems. Some of these problems include but are not limited to Anorexia, insomnia, and addiction. Those are some of the short-term health risks but being that it is a fairly new drug there have not been much reported on the long-term effects, but some scientists are thinking that it might be linked to early onset Parkinson’s disease in those genetically prone to the disease and also Alzheimer is something that scientist think Adderall is speeding up the process for, because Alzheimer is caused from a brain just wearing out. All the side effects that have shown up have been in patients that have been taking the drug regularly for twelve months, since it has showed up in people taking the drug for twelve months it leads me to believe that the small amount that a student will take the drug for the four or maybe five years that they are in college will not be that risky, but that is only my opinion and very narrowly based on fact so again it is at the users discretion whether they want to do it or. Weighing the risks over the benefits is something that should be considered before the decision is made. I do feel like the addiction side effect is a lot easier to pick up for the college students taking the drug for grades, according to an interview with Alex Kingsbury, “It sometimes gets to a point where I just have to take it the night before exams or I just panic all night”. He has only taken the drug on occasion for the past year now and is already growing dependent on it; this may be a rare case but still could prove to be a serious issue for him. The addictive qualities of the drug are that it helped once so maybe if it is repeatedly taken then it will continue to help and it makes people feel like they have to take a little Adderall pill before doing anything school related.
In some very rare cases scientists have linked psychosis patients back to the overuse of Adderall. According to ABC News there was a student at Vanderbilt University that was on the drug and stepped in front of a train intentionally killing himself. “In just one year, Kyle lost his social confidence and became increasingly paranoid in an almost imperceptible downward spiral that deceived nearly everyone.” (James) Due the amount of work college demanded of this young man and the pressure by friends to go out and party he turned to Adderall to help him stay up and get all his work done. After staying up all week Kyle would be exhausted and end up taking Adderall while drinking. As he saw the people around him still get better grades than him he faked ADHD and got a prescription himself. Taking the drug too much slowly started to turn Kyle into an introvert, this can happen to not only this young man but also it can happen to anybody taking the drug irresponsibly. As a person overuses the drug they start to miss too much sleep, mix it with alcohol when they are out on the weekends in order to stay awake for the parties, and then just restart the next week. As this cycle continues you grow tired of the parties and start to slowly shy away from that and while your friends are partying you will be catching up on sleep, or away working to catch up to them. After a while it can just get out of hand and like this young man, Kyle, you could end up with slowly developing psychosis causing you to be an introvert and who knows what else could happen if you happened to start to long spiral downward into addiction to a prescription drug.
Due to the fact that the drug is so widely used illegally and so commonly sold by college students it is very hard to regulate so it is going mostly unpunished. Since people are not getting in trouble for taking the drug illegally it is getting a little out of hand and now there are a group of scientist working on an over the counter study drug for anybody to use as a safe and legal alternative for Adderall. The new “study drug” will be amphetamine free so it wont inhibit sleep or hunger but will still help you to focus on whatever it is you want to focus on. However Adderall was designed to help people suffering from focus problems, the ability to focus and to be more calm than usual. Adderall puts people with this condition on the same level with people that don’t have the condition so when people without the condition are taking the drug it ruins the whole purpose of the drug existing in the first place. Now that scientists are making a drug similar to Adderall but meant for anybody there are huge moral issues rising up, and people are saying that it is morally wrong for people without a serious condition to take drug that artificially enhances people’s ability to focus on a subject. One of the arguments is saying that it is cheating for people to use drugs to do better in school, and that it keeps “normal” people at an advantage and people with ADHD at a constant disadvantage.
In a study done by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH’s) the majority of the people taking the drug are full time college students between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two being more prominent in the age groups of twenty-one and twenty-two. Also in their research they discovered the it is done more by men than women, and that non-college students are doing the drug about half as much as full time college students. There are obvious reasons for college students being more likely to take the drug than a non-college student the most prominent reason for this is just the amount of work that that a college student has to do is more constant and rigorous than that of a non-college student. “Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year olds and accounts for more than 12 percent of all annual deaths in that age group, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One-third is positive for alcohol and 1 in 5 has evidence of prescription drugs.” (James) I’m not saying that if you take Adderall illegally then you’re going to commit suicide, all I am saying is that taking prescription drugs illegally can be a slippery slope and people should at the very least research the drug first, or just avoid it as much as possible.
As mentioned before suicide is one of the highest causes of death in people between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four, one in five has evidence of a prescription drug, and as you can see in the above chart the illegal use of Adderall is double in people between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two that are in college than of people that age out of college, this means that people in college at those ages are very prone to suicide. As a college student myself I know that it is very easy to find a person, or organization to get involved in, so that you can get away from the pressure or just to talk to someone that can help you out in a difficult situation.
With all of this negative in mind there are still some positives to taking the drug for help. Like I said before Adderall does help you to focus and it makes not sleep or eat giving you tons of extra time to work on a paper or study. If a college is in particularly stressful week then Adderall is definitely a good way to help them out of it, and it’s much cheaper than buying coffee to stay up late. “When on Adderall I just have this drive to accomplish, and to push through even when im working on a subject I don’t particularly like, Adderall has saved me from immanent failure on many occasions and I am sure it will again in the future”. (Kingsbury) If you really think about what you are doing when taking Adderall use the drug in moderation and make sure you trust and know the person you got the drug from well, then using the drug as an assistant in studying can be a very positive experience. However if the “study drug” the scientists are working on is completed and is put into production soon I believe Adderall will be obsolete and we can go about our business with any harm, but until then the country wide abuse of Adderall on college campuses will not falter and people will continue to take it. As college students we are adults and it is our own responsibilities what we do with our lives and how we spend our time so just stay informed and make the choice that you think is the best for you.