Dr. Diana Bell
27 April 2014
The Illicit Use of Adderall: A Negative Impact on the College Environment
For years, college students have been looking for a competitive advantage in the classroom. Students have turned to plagiarism, cheat sheets, and some even have access to old-exam databases. The newest way they are gaining an advantage is by taking a medication known as Adderall. This medication gives students increased focus and energy, giving them the upper hand when it comes time to study. While Adderall can be very beneficial when taken properly, the illicit use of Adderall can be very dangerous, as it has many psychological side effects. Because of these side effects, as well as the unfair advantage it gives to students using them illegally, the regulation of Adderall must be reformed.
Adderall is a psychostimulant prescription drug used to treat ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. According to Stolz, Adderall is:
Used to treat individuals with ADHD and Narcolepsy and works to enhance concentration by stimulating the production of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. Students that do not have ADHD are drawn to the drug because it over-stimulates the brain, creating super enhanced focus (585).
Naturally, college students are drawn to this drug. With the ability to energize as well as enhance focus, college students are seeking out Adderall as a study-aid. For those with ADHD, Adderall simply levels their brain activity to normal. While Adderall can be very beneficial for those who legitimately need it, but can potentially be very harmful for those who don’t.
Adderall is considered to be among the group of drugs that has “the highest potential for dependence or abuse” (NSDUH 1). However, it is one of the easiest drugs to obtain on a college campus. Many students who are prescribed Adderall often sell or give away their medication. Some students even fake ADHD symptoms at physician’s offices in order to obtain the prescription. To make matters worse, the drug is becoming increasingly more popular. According to reports, “since 1990, sales of ADHD medications like Adderall have increased by 400 percent” (Stolz 585).
Students who illegally take Adderall are often unaware of their negative psychological side effects and risks. According to an interview of college students conducted by DeSantis and Hane, one student said, “It is not dangerous, it’s really no big deal. It doesn’t wreck your body like hardcore drugs. Like acid, that stuff will really mess you up” (37). College students are obviously unaware that some side effects of Adderall include “difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, hallucinations, seizures, and uncontrolled shaking and body movements” (Stolz 586). Long-term side effects even include severe psychological and physical dependence.
ADHD medications are beginning to have a negative affect on academic integrity. According to an interview of college students conducted by DeSantis, one student said that Adderall “helps me cram. If I stay up all night, then I kind of need it” (317). Students who don’t have access to these drugs can’t perform at the same level as the ones who do, making collegiate academics seemingly unfair.
Justifications for Illegal Use
Alan DeSantis and Audrey Hane conducted a survey to figure out why college students use Adderall illegally. They surveyed 175 full-time undergraduate students at a local university, and categorically sorted them by different requirements, including gender, race, year in school, and Greek status. Each student was asked 15 questions, and the interviews lasted no longer than 30 minutes each. The questions they asked revolved around four basic issues: demographics, Adderall usage patterns, ethical/legal implications, and physical side effects. The justifications that were found were students claiming to do it for the right reasons, students claiming that there was no