Raising the Standard.

Against Adderall

License to cram.

As the weather cools, schoolwork is rapidly heating up. Looming finals are invoking mass panic, and it seems that students will do anything to keep their heads above water amidst the stress. Unfortunately, that includes drugs.

All over campus, students are scrambling to get their hands on Adderall. This substance is viewed by those who abuse it as a chemical guarantee of academic success. Statements like, “If I can get my hands on some ‘addy’ this weekend, I can kill that test next week” are proliferating.

Adderall is the frazzled undergraduate’s version of human growth hormone. Adderall, like HGH, will not make you a tremendous talent overnight. Instead, it gives those with mediocre study habits the extra push needed for temporary success. If I prepare just as diligently as the next organic chemistry student, Adderall could give me the benefit of being more locked-in on last minute studying before a high-stakes exam.

In other words, Adderall doesn’t make a poor student a great one; it makes a somewhat-prepared student artificially focused on a topic for a brief stretch. Athletes use HGH to expedite recovery from natural injuries. Students use Adderall to artificially “recover” from tendencies toward poor time management and irresponsible study habits.

A survey taken at a New England college reported that at least one in ten students took Adderall without consent from a medical professional. These numbers are most likely underreported because abusers often fail to self-report. Even more alarming, three-fourths of the students participating in the study knew of another student who abused the drug.

The effects Adderall and related drugs can have on the human body are astounding. In some cases, these drugs have been associated with long-term memory loss. That’s right, the “I can remember anything you put in front of me” drug has been traced to memory decay. This would indicate a tragically counterintuitive effect of Adderall abuse. Caution is advised, however: Other studies indicate that Adderall’s placebo effect may dominate.

Possibly the most concerning health effect associated with Adderall abuse, however, is the threat of overdose. College students don’t possess the medical knowledge necessary to self-prescribe appropriate dosages of an amphetamine. When overdoses do occur, a pattern of seizures and strokes are common results. Sadly, students tend to seek high doses. The logic seems to be, “Why take twenty milligrams when sixty milligrams will make you three times more focused?”

Rampant use of academic performance enhancing drugs doesn’t only harm users. It dilutes the importance of a diploma from our institution, it fosters a fundamentally un-academic culture of corner-cutting, and it gives the least deserving an unfair advantage. While it may be easy to dismiss these cheaters as misguided or foolish, their actions have adverse effects on the rest of us. We attend a university that gets more competitive with each incoming class, and we will soon be entering a job market that can only be described as cutthroat. That many of our competitors seek advantage from a prescription bottle should perturb those of us that play by the rules.

I don’t have a complete solution for this problem. I do know, however, that this issue needs exposure. The next time someone you know abuses Adderall, let them know that you think it’s wrong. The undergraduate student faces enough challenges without the uneven playing field and negative health effects that a culture of Adderall abuse exacerbates.

—Ryan Stewart is a sophomore studying marketing.

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