Years ago students using drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin may have felt embarrassed of their need to pop pills to pay attention in class; these days the use of amphetamines like these are used to get a competitive edge in college courses and students prescribed the medication can make a pretty penny off their study stricken peers.
“If you don’t use Adderall or other drugs like it, you’re at a disadvantage,” says USF student Stephanie Carrillo. “It’s the norm. People who take Adderall to study for tests and to write papers do better in school.”
Students who use Adderall or similar drugs such as Vyvanse without a prescription buy the pink or blue colored pick-me-up from friends that are prescribed the drug for ADD or ADHD. Amphetamines are used to heighten wakefulness and are the perfect cocktail to aid college students in pulling all-nighters during exams.
“I can’t get through a night of studying without it,” says student Brittney Weissman. “When I don’t use Adderall, my grades are significantly lower, and I just don’t see a point in not using it when it is so readily available. Everyone has it.”
It may be easy to get ahold of, but can also come with several undesirable side effects. Among some of the side effects such as nausea, nervousness and trouble sleeping, one of the more serious consequences to taking Adderall can be loss of appetite. Students with heavy course loads or that have trouble focusing in class who study on Adderall regularly can forget eating all together while on the super study pill.
Emily Davis, a student at USF takes Vyvanse daily to get through her courses and has lost 20 pounds since starting her daily regimen of the drug. “I often will go a whole day and forget to eat because I’m so focused on studying.”
Dr. Roberta Ann Mix says that she has up to five students a week come in to her office inquiring about amphetamines like Adderall to help them focus better in school. She claims that once a person has tried it and it enhances their studying abilities, they convince themselves that they have ADD or ADHD and that they need the drug to get through school.
“To accurately decide whether a patient needs Adderall, we administer a preliminary behavioral test to see if they have symptoms of a person with ADHD,” says Mix. “Over half of the people that come into my office with requests for Adderall are for school related issues.”
But this test is not difficult to pass. A simple google search can give you symptoms of ADHD and makes it easy for patients to claim lack of focus, difficulty retaining information or reading or struggle to complete tasks fully.
For a person who actually needs to take Adderall daily, their perspective on the drug is a bit different from those who pop a pill before a big test. Lacey McLain, a student at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, has been taking the pill since she was in middle school. To her the drugs make her feel like a zombie.
“When I was a kid and I started taking Ritalin, I hated it,” says McLain. “As a kid, my hyperactivity was hard for my teachers to handle so my parents were forced to put me on medicine after my creative streaks got me expelled from school.”
What many students don’t know is that the performance enhancing drug can be addicting. According to adderallabuse.net, when users with ADHD take the pill, it heightens their focus and helps them to focus on daily tasks without become distracted by their surroundings. A person that does not have ADHD though will be affected by the pill in a completely different way. They will feel an urge to focus completely on whatever they are working on and it can keep you up for several hours.
A student named Adam, who asked not to have his last name stated for privacy purposes, became addicted to Adderall his sophomore year at North Carolina State University and was forced to drop out of college and attend rehab to get himself back to being able to get through his day without the drug.
“It may be a prescription drug, but it can be just as addicting as drugs like cocaine,” says Adam. “Adderall robbed me of my ability to cope with every day activities and soon enough I had lost all of my study skills I used in high school.”
Though the use of Adderall without a prescription is considered illegal, most students believe that it’s fine to use Adderall to study.
“Adderall is a drug for smart people. You can’t consider it a bad thing when it helps so many people get ahead in school,” said student Lauren Chandler. “It’s not like cocaine, that’s for losers. Adderall is for winners.”
If caught with Adderall, Vyvanse, Ritalin, or any other amphetamine without a prescription, you can be charged with possession of a controlled substance. Though the drug may help you get ahead in classes, the consequence of getting caught with the drug could affect your future more than the test you are using Adderall to study for.