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.
Erin Potter will be a junior next year at the University of South Florida, but what makes her different from the average junior are the accomplishments she has achieved in the past three years of her collegiate life — one being the Golden Bull Award.
The Golden Bull Award was first awarded in 2008 and is given by the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement.
There are several requirements for the award that the university considers to be one of the most prestigious honors given to students each year. Undergrad applicants must have at least 60 credit hours completed, have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0, be in good standing with the university and display exceptional dedication to leadership and values.
Only 20 out of the 90 applicants received the award, and it’s clear how Potter stood out from other applicants.
In the past three years she has served as an Emerging Leaders Institute facilitator, USF ambassador, and conference coordinator for the Southeastern Panhellenic Conference. She is in the Honors College, received the 25 Under 25 award from the College of Business and was on the Stampede of Service Leadership Board.
In the Greek community Potter has held positions in her sorority as vice president of finance, new member educator and chapter president. She attended the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute (UIFI), a leadership conference for students who are members of fraternity and sororities, and is currently the president of the Panhellenic Council.
“A fellow student and previous Golden Bull Award winner, Matthew Dolson, inspired me to apply for the award,” Potter said. “I saw how important the award was to him after all of the contributions he had made to our university and it motivated me to apply this year.”
A question on the application for the award asked what kind of legacy Potter wanted to leave after graduating from USF.
“I mostly just want students to be inspired to be leaders and get involved while still maintaining good grades and a positive attitude toward academics,” Potter said. “If I can do it, so can any other student with motivation and dreams.”
After graduation, Potter wants to open her own catering business and she believes that opportunities and recognition such as the Golden Bull Award have opened doors to make her career choice easier to achieve.
In celebration of Earth Day, USF’s Office of Sustainability and the Tampa Bay Sierra Club will hold an event at USF’s Botanical Gardens on Saturday to promote the community’s efforts to “go green.”
“I think that this event will be a great way to bring attention to the importance of putting our earth first,” USF student Parris Bell said. “I am dragging all of my friends out to show them all the ways you can show pride for your community’s environment.”
The theme of this years event is “Pride of Place” and is meant to bring attention to the pride the Tampa Bay area has for its local environments. The event will host over 100 environmentally conscious exhibitors including organizations such as the Student Community Garden Club, the Peace Corps and Big Cat Rescue. There will also be demonstrations, eco-friendly arts and crafts, community groups, live music, food, and children’s activities.
According to a press release on the event’s site the event is family friendly, and organizers encourage people to use eco-friendly transportation to get to the event.
USF Honors College students enrolled in the course Social Media, Social Change: One Pencil Can Help Bring Peace are collecting school supplies to aid the effort to prevent children in Afghanistan from getting involved with the Taliban.
The course is inspired by the charity School Supplies for Afghan Children, which was started by U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt Rex Temple and his wife Liisa after Temple realized, while on tour in Afghanistan in 2009, that most of the children do not have school supplies, which hinders their education.
Temple’s efforts to collect school supplies began through his military-award-winning blog, “Afghanistan: My Last Tour.”
The students, like Temple, are documenting their charity work and progress through their blog.
So far the students have collected
over 15,000 pounds 145 boxes, an estimated 2,000 pounds, of school supplies to children in Afghanistan who cannot afford them.
Kati Fratesi, a student taking the class, said that the supplies do more than just keep the children out of trouble.
“It also helps our military because it encourages the children to trust the U.S. troops,” Fratesi said. “They often give away crucial information about the Taliban’s whereabouts.”
To encourage USF students to donate, Fratesi, who is a Community Manager in Greek Village, is holding a school supplies competition between the houses. Housing and Greek Village Community Managers will throw an ice cream or pizza party for the house that donates the most supplies or money for shipping.
The drive is collecting spiral notebooks, pencils, pens, small portable whiteboards, markers, erasers, chalk, crayons, metric rulers, pencil sharpeners, dull tipped children’s scissors and construction paper.
Donation locations are at the USF Honors College, WUSF Public Media and the SS American Victory Mariner’s Memorial and Museum.
Correction: An earlier version of this blog post incorrectly listed the total weight of supplies sent abroad by the Honors College class. While an earlier effort sent 15,000 pounds, the class itself has shipped 145 boxes, or about 2,000 pounds, worth of supplies.
My brother, Ryan Patrick, pedaled a stationary bike for 24 hours on March 7 in front of USF’s Marshall Student Center to raise money for Push America, an organization whose mission is to enhance the lives of people with disabilities.
Several organizations including the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement and the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life came out to support his philanthropic endeavor, but Patrick said the most support he received was from people he didn’t know.
“You would never believe the support a person you never knew could give you,” Patrick said. “There were people I never met before that stayed out with me in the wee hours of the night to keep me company, bring me food and entertain me so that I could keep going.”
Patrick’s physically exhausting feat raised $879 for Push America.
Patrick, a North Carolina State graduate and Pi Kappa Phi Alumni, began working with Push America in the summer of 2005 when he rode his bicycle with a group of fraternity brothers from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. in Journey of Hope. During the fundraising and awareness event, they helped countless people with disabilities and their families by building wheelchair ramps, throwing “friendship parties” and playing wheelchair basketball.
He spent the next two summers cycling from Miami to Tallahassee, helping people with disabilities through Push America’s Gear Up Florida. He also helped fund the team’s ride by obtaining a $30,000 corporate sponsorship from Raymond James Financial.
All of the money raised, people helped, and calories burned have not been enough for Patrick. Later this spring, he will compete in the Push America Challenge where he will participate in a sanctioned USA Cycling race to raise money for the non-profit organization.
You can help Patrick meet his $2,500 goal by clicking here and making a donation.