Adderall over campus

Imagine, you are in the middle of finals week; you are completely overwhelmed with assignments and projects, all while studying for your impending exams. You are exhausted, drained from all schoolwork, and thinking back on the semester that has passed makes you even more tired. You have come to a point where you no longer have an ounce of energy left in your brain to even be somewhat productive. You have hit a dead end.

But then your friend tells you about this tiny little pill called Adderall that can take you from zero to 100 in a matter of seconds. A pill that will make you focused, aware, and extremely energized. You are now at a point where you are willing to do anything to push yourself just one step further. Do you take it?

Adderall is a prescription medication that is traditionally used to treat ADHD. However, in recent years both legal and illegal prescriptions have been used by overwhelmed college students who are not diagnosed with ADHD.

“Students turn to this drug because it helps you pull all-nighters, to read hundreds of pages at a time, or write pages and pages of that final paper,” said Maria Shah, a registered nurse at Avanti Hospitals.

According to, Adderall contains a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, two central nervous system stimulants that affect chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to hyperactivity and affect attention span.

In an environment where assignments are endless, where there is always something on the to-do list, it is not hard to believe that students would turn to a “quick fix” to power through college semesters.

With the enormous stress that is put on students, whether by their families or educators, it's no wonder young adults resort to Adderall. Good colleges and universities are harder to get into than ever, and the competition is tough.

“I need it for my studies, to be able to stay up all night. There is a lot of pressure to get good grades,” said one student, who reported she bought pills from a peer on campus. “I have been taking them for about eight months now and I don’t plan on stopping after I graduate. Once work life starts and I start my career, I am going to enter a whole new competition.”

It is true. We have entered a new era where competition in education and the job market is so fierce that stimulants have become socially acceptable. The expectations on young adults to succeed in life too great.

“Athletes have steroids, depressives have ‘happy pills’ and those who wish to do it all, and do it fast, have Adderall,” said Shah.

This may be true, but one thing that is important to know about stimulants like Adderall is that they may affect everyone differently, and there are side effects.

According to the Food and Drug Administration’s medication guide, heart problems, high blood pressure, stroke and even sudden death are some of the side effects reported. They may also cause dizziness and drowsiness, and these effects may become worse if the drug is mixed with alcohol, which is not uncommon.

“I don’t feel hyper when I take it. I feel relaxed but most importantly focused,” another student said. “I get a better effect when I crush the pills and sniff them, but at one point it sent me to the hospital for two days for mixing them with alcohol. I thought I was going to die.”

A study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that emergency room visits due to non-medical stimulant use tripled from 2005 to 2011. Another study by SAMHSA shows that full-time students between the ages 18 and 22 were twice as likely to have used Adderall non-medically as those who were not full-time students.

In a country like the United States, where we seem to be fixated on the idea of succeeding and knocking out the competition at any cost, it does not seem all too absurd to believe that we have entered a new Adderall-era, where in the future, our children will tell their children not to forget to pack their Adderall for school.

Some students today go as far as to justify their drug use, arguing that the educators are equally responsible for the pressure leading to their decision. So, in a society where we are expected to get ahead and not just keep up, how can we be expected to change if the system doesn't?