The prescription drug Adderall is used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder, but some people will self-medicate to stay awake for extended periods of time.
“Side effects include irritability, anorexia, insomnia, tics, psychotic symptoms, and hypertension,” psychology professor Mark Plonsky said. Plonsky teaches a class about psychoactive drugs and behavior.
The list of side effects has not stopped students from abusing Adderall, but there are reasons they do.
Adderall is an ergogenic and nootropic drug, meaning it improves physical and mental performance. For those reasons, it is used in the military and banned in the Olympics and most professional sports.
“While I don’t advocate its use as a study aid, I do understand it,” Plonsky said.
“I don’t think it’s necessary,” senior Benjamin Wolf said. “If they need it for ADD that’s one thing, but it’s just part of the age we live in; trying to pay attention in a fast-paced environment.”
This drug is often prescribed for those who have trouble focusing and while this is a real issue for many students, others can obtain a prescription without trouble.
A typical bottle contains between 30-60 pills, depending on what the doctor has prescribed. It can be sold illegally for around $5 per pill.
“I think it’s over-prescribed,” senior Meghan Kelling said. “Even the people that need it might abuse it.”
A junior waste management student talked about their first-hand experiences with the drug. This student was prescribed Adderall and takes it on a weekly basis as a study aid. With the addition of Adderall in their study routine, this student made the dean’s list with 4.0 honors multiple semesters in a row.
While they recognized the benefits of the drug, they also said they see why it has a high potential for abuse.
A senior pre-med student who had also taken Adderall said if it is used responsibly there is no issue. They compared it to other drugs with a high potential for abuse, such as tobacco and alcohol, and said the responsibility falls on the user.
It is easy to pin the blame on students but over-prescribing drugs is a complex, systemic, issue in medicine that goes beyond college procrastinators. The college dealer may make $40 per bottle, but that pales in comparison to the profit margins of the companies peddling these substances.
While discussing this type of issue can be a touchy subject for many, it is important.
Something that seems black and white has a range of opinions. The urge to provide anonymity for students who had taken the drug brings the stigma surrounding Adderall to light.
The risks are as real as the benefits.