November 10, 2010

by Anna Claire Thomas, Staff Reporter

With finals around the corner on Tech’s campus, the drug Adderall and others like it are in high demand for students looking to knock out exams and head into quarter break without a blemish on their transcript.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Adderall is one of the most abused prescription drugs on college campuses and is a hot commodity with college students for studying and recreation purposes as well.

Something that many college students fail to understand is that, according to the National Library of Medicine, the drug is highly addictive and habit-forming and causes a mental strain on your body more than anything.

Which begs the question: if Adderall is so dangerous, why do students continue to consume it and other similar drugs so frequently?

According to the Food and Drug Administration, non-medical use of Adderall is among the group of legally approved drugs but is also under the classification of having the highest potential for dependence or abuse.

According to the NSDUH, full-time college students between the ages of 18-22 were twice more likely to use Adderall non-medically in the past year than those who had not been in college at all or were only part-time students. 

Devon Dageford has seen firsthand what Adderall can do to others and said students are more inclined to take the drug because it is so accessible on campuses.

“Many students don’t even think about the consequences before taking it because if it helps them study, they do not see a problem with it,” Dageford, a senior finance major, said. “It not necessarily a taboo subject on college campuses anymore like it was before.”

To thousands of college students around the country, this prescribed drug is used to enhance their focus and endurance while studying and make it through rigorous college classes in order to gain a competitive edge over their fellow students. 

Ron Cathey, director of counseling services at Tech, said students without a legal prescription to the amphetamines should learn to function without the help of medication.

“These students need to learn skills to handle these stressful situations,” Cathey said. “Taking a pill will not help develop professional and personal skills needed for success.”

According to Cathey, it is also one of the most popular legal drugs among college students because it’s easily acquired through medical doctors who are wary of students trying to gain an edge, but also careful not to deny ADHD persons who need the medication.

Medley said many students have been known to exaggerate or falsify symptoms in order to acquire the prescription drugs from medical doctors for purposes other than just studying.

Chris Medley, a drug and alcohol addiction specialist in Tech’s counseling services, said the drug has become an answer to students’ issues with studying habits.

“In my opinion, Adderall is in some ways over-prescribed,” Medley said. “Rather than changing the student to fit the classroom, perhaps, we should look at an alternative of changing the classroom to fit the student.”

Adderall is commonly referred to as “college crack” or “cognitive steroid” in order to relay the strength of the drug by comparing it to performance enhancers.

Along with Ritalin, which is also used to control symptoms of ADHD, Adderall is known for three different purposes among students on college campuses: studying, partying and excessive weight-loss. 

Studies by the American Psychiatric Association have shown that students who frequently take Adderall while studying can concentrate on their books for hours at a time and do better in school than without the stimulant. 

But the biggest concern among doctors and scientists is the recreational uses of the amphetamine among different party scenes. 

Adderall is also known to create a feeling of well-being and confidence. It also enables users to go without sleep for extended periods of time. 

It is also known to reduce your appetite if it’s taken regularly, which has increased its popularity among many young women looking for a weight-loss solution in a highly competitive social scene. 

According to Medley, with so many college-age students using the drugs to boost brainpower and stimulate certain brain cells, the availability of the drug is becoming more common than ever.

Dageford said the drug has become so common in the past several years that students do not even try to conceal it as much as they used to in social settings.

“I think the drug has become much more popular over the last few years among college students,” Dageford said. “You hear about it in everyday conversation now, where in past years it wouldn’t be mentioned so nonchalantly.”

Starting in 1996, Adderall was originally prescribed to adults and children suffering from attention disorders and, according to the NSDUH, has now become the most abused drugs among students.

Cathey said students who take Adderall for medical reasons eventually aim to eliminate the use of the drug over a certain amount of time, something that students who do not suffer from the disorder do not normally understand.

“Those who are prescribed Adderall take it on a regular basis as part of their daily routine,” he said. “They do, however, see a time in the future when they will function normally without the help Adderall provides.” 

Medley said Adderall is appropriate for students who suffer from ADHD, but it should not be viewed as a solution to the overall problem for attention disorders.

“I think medication is a good way to get someone back to their baseline functioning if they truly need it, but it is certainly not a permanent solution for the problem,” he said. “We have to look at other ways of addressing the solution rather than only providing a magic pill to hide the problem.”

E-mail comments to act013@latech.edu.