6 November 2011
Illegal Use of Adderall on College Campuses
Binge drinking used to be the biggest problem on college campuses, but now the biggest problem on campus may in fact be the illegal distribution and consumption of a drug called Adderall. You may be asking yourself what Adderall is, and you may know a little about it or nothing at all; Adderall is a drug that puts large amounts of dopamine into the brain to make you focus. Typically, doctors prescribe Adderall to people with ADD (attention deficit disorder), so that they can focus on whatever task they are doing. The problem is not that the people with ADD are using the drug before studying; the problem is that they are selling the drug illegally to people who do not have the disorder. According to a video on MSNBC, over “one third of people on our college campuses are using this drug” (“Today” Par. 1) There are three major problems with this issue. The first issue is the illegal distribution of this prescription drug. Second, is the consumption of this drug by students who do not have attention deficit disorder. Finally, is the issue of doctors of proscribing the drug too much all over the nation. This “Adderall movement” is a rapidly growing problem among college students on campuses all over the country, and it warrants the attention of the public.
The first major problem with this is issue is how Adderall is a highly addictive drug, according to Michelle Trudeau from Pub Med Health (“More” Par. 2). Most students do not think anything about taking the drug, as it is a prescription drug and many people are already taking it. Their mindset is It helps me focus; it helps me get better grades. What is the down side? They are far from correct. In a video clip that aired on MSNBC, a doctor stated that Adderall is just as addicting as Cocaine because it is a “speed” drug (“Today” Par. 1). The speed aspect of Adderall allows you to feel that you can get lots of work completed. There is a positive side of Adderall amongst the many negatives. The one positive of this drug is that it keeps you focused. I did an interview with one of my friends who took Adderall before studying, but he preferred to keep his name anonymous. I asked him, “Why do you take Adderall?” He responded by saying “I take it because it keeps me focused. When I’m looking at my notes (for the exam the next day) it seems like that’s all I can look at. Nothing else matters to me when I am on Adderall. It’s basically my notes, and me and focusing on getting good grades. I can’t describe the feeling, but I know when I am on Adderall I will get a good grade on my exam.” Though I saw that he truly believed what he was saying, to me, personally, I don’t understand how it helps that much. Based on what he said, it seems that Adderall gets you very focused on your whatever task you are trying to perform. It may help them focus on the short term, but the long term affects are far too devastating for me to even consider taking Adderall.
There are many downsides to taking Adderall, and anyone who takes the drug illegally is most likely not aware of or does not understand the effects that may be taking place in their body. On Pub Med Health’s website there are over twenty three side effects listed: fast or pounding heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest pain, excessive tiredness, slow or difficult speech, dizziness or faintness, weakness or numbness of an arm or leg, seizures, motor tics or verbal tics, belief in things that aren’t true, feeling unusually suspicious of others, hallucinations, mania, aggressive or hostile behavior, changes in vision or blurry vision, fevering, blistering or peeling skin, rash, hives, itching, swelling of the hives, swelling of the eyes, face, tongue, or throat, difficulty in breathing or swallowing, and hoarseness. This list does not even include the scariest one of all; it is highly addictive, and it can cause depression (“Dextroamphetamine” Par. 4). On the website Sober Landing, there was a story about a young lady who had a full academic scholarship to an (unknown) university. This story described the life and college college of a highly intelligent and strongly achieving young person, but is overloaded and overwhelmed with work. She didn’t know if she could maintain her high grades with all the work she faced, so her friend suggested Adderall to keep her focused. At first, it worked out really well for her; she was getting straight A’s and getting all her work completed. But eventually she started using Adderall more than just for studying. She was taking around three to four Adderall pills a day and it slowly started to affect her. She was diagnosed with insomnia (the sleeping disease) and depression due to the insomnia. Her grades started to slip and she was put on academic probation at the end of the first semester. She continued on Adderall and her grades slipped even more. She was taken off academic scholarship and asked to leave the university. She was quoted saying, “I used Adderall because I needed to keep my grades up and I heard that it helped people focus, and it turned out the Adderall ruined my collegiate life and led to me being asked to leave the school” (“Adderall” Par. 3). Adderall is a highly addictive drug and should not be used by people who do not have ADD. The consequences of taking this drug by those not impacted with ADD are far more invasive and disrupting than people know.
The first problem in the Adderall movement is the illegal distribution of this narcotic. The legal way to obtain a prescription for Adderall is by having ADD, which means that you have a condition that has been diagnosed by a doctor. People who have been diagnosed with ADD are given Adderall, though not all people who are given Adderall take the drug. Some forget or decide they do not like the way they feel on the drug, and since they get monthly dosages of this drug, they have plenty of this medicine left over. People who have the extra drugs just laying around have the mindset of, “Well if I am not going to use all of them, why not sell them? What is the worst that can happen?” They think nothing of what will happen to them because they know they have a prescription and do not think of Adderall as an illegal drug to sell. However, unbeknownst to them, it is highly illegal and they could possibly go to jail. According to College Binge Drinking, if you sell Adderall and are caught by police, then your punishment can be as severe as a Class B felony and you could serve up to 60 days in jail, and up to an additional 24 months of probation (“College” Par. 5). In MSNBC’s video they put an intern undercover to see if she could find someone who sells these drugs. She walked into the (unknown) university library and within thirty seconds of being there, she found a way to get Adderall. Once she was in the library, she asked three random girls, “Do you know where I can get some Adderall?” and one of the girls said “Yeah, from me.” The girl then proceeded to take the undercover reporter to one of the isles and asked her how much she wanted. The reporter then told the girl that she didn’t have any money, so she told the reporter how to get Adderall for free. She told her how to fake the symptoms of someone who has ADD, and then how to talk to the doctor and tell him/her cannot focus, and that she would most likely walk out of the doctor’s office with a prescription for the drug to control ADD.. This is a prime example of how some people who do have Adderall sell it with no problem or second thought. She would have sold Adderall to a person she did not even know because she found nothing wrong with selling her own prescription. (“Today” Par. 4) I also have friend who sells Adderall; I interviewed him, but he also wanted to keep his name anonymous. I asked him “Why do you sell your extra Adderall?” he responded with “First off, I want to make money because I don’t have that much. Second, I find nothing wrong with it. I am not doing anything wrong.” Although I explained that selling Adderall is highly illegal and if you sell it you are considered a drug dealer, and will be punished by the same laws a drug dealer would if they were selling something like marijuana. He still saw nothing wrong. The people selling it are supplying students with illegal drugs to help them to focus on their schoolwork. They may think they are doing something that is not wrong, perhaps even helpful, but it is still illegal.
The second major problem with the situation is the consumption of this illicit drug. Many students take the drug to get a step up over everyone else. The people I interviewed described it like this: “Barry Bonds used steroids to be a step above everyone else, I use Adderall to be one step above everyone else.” After hearing that , I realized that many of the people who take Adderall think using it is it just a way for them to improve their learning habits and knowledge, but they are very wrong. If you put the positives and negatives of this drug together, the negatives out weigh the positives substantially. If you start taking the drug, it can trigger depression and cause terrible harm to your mind and body. Just like the story I told previously, Adderall use by a very bright and motivated young college student ruined that girl’s life because she became addicted to the drug. She had a full ride to a university, but after she started taking Adderall, she was asked to leave because her grades suffered so drastically. If you are caught taking Adderall without a prescription you can be charged with what is known as a “Possession Charge.” A possession charge is considered a Class C felony. This felony is punishable by up to 30 days of jail time and up to an additional 18 months of probation. During the interviewing process, I asked one of the participants “Do you know you can go to jail for taking Adderall?” He responded with, “No I can’t. Adderall isn’t a drug, I can’t get in any form of trouble at all.” This makes it pretty clear that many people do not understand the trouble you can get in for taking Adderall illegally. They see that it is being prescribed by doctors to help people and therefore it is a legal drug. Most people don’t consider it an illegal drug, but policemen will consider it a narcotic and illegal if you do not have a prescription for it. It is highly illegal if you do not have a prescription and will go to jail if caught. (“College” Par. 8 )
The third major problem with this situation is that doctors over prescribe it. Some doctors just give out Adderall because the patient might have ADD and it appears that you really can fake the symptoms of the disease. In the MSNBC video, the girl who was selling the drug told the undercover reporter a way she could fake the symptoms to get some free Adderall. There are six symptoms of ADD: “zoning out” without realizing it, even in the middle of a conversation; extreme distractibility, wandering attention makes it hard to stay on track; difficulty paying attention or focusing, such as when reading or listening to others; struggling to complete tasks, even ones that seem simple; tendency to overlook details, leading to errors or incomplete work; poor listening skills; and a hard time remembering conversations and following directions. Any person who knows this information can convince a doctor to give him/her some Adderall. One of the problems with ADD is that all the symptoms are behavioral, not physical. There is nothing like shortness of breath or rapid heartbeats that can be quantified. It truly can be hard or easy to diagnose depending on your point of view. It would appear that the doctors are just trying to help the people they are diagnosing, but the doctors cannot determine if the people are actually affected by the disease or if they are just faking in order to get some Adderall. This is a problem that cannot be fixed; if a doctor believes you have ADD he will prescribe the drug Adderall to try and help you function better. The only way for this situation to stop is for people to be honest about it. That is the biggest issue of all: there is so much pressure to do well, that students are looking for a leg up anywhere they can find it. Even with the use of Adderall.
In my opinion, no one should take Adderall unless he or she has actually been diagnosed with ADD, and a doctor has prescribed the medication to improve the condition. All of the downsides of the drug over power all the positives. There are only about three positives in the non-prescription use of this drug: it makes you focus on what you are doing and nothing else, it may help improve grades, and it might make you think you are smarter. Besides that, there are no positives to taking the drug if it has not been prescribed to treat ADD. The negatives are far greater and they include health problems, depression, addiction, and possible jail time. Knowing that you may get one of the twenty-three side effects is too great a risk to ever take the chance. Adderall needs to be more closely managed by health professionals so that less of it is available to be sold by those with prescriptions. The students who do not have ADD and are seeking Adderall must be better informed of the downsides of taking the drug.
Adderall Use Among College Students.” College Binge Drinking | Young Adult Alcohol Abuse and Addiction. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Nov. 2011. <http://www.collegebingedrinking.net/adderall-abuse-increasing-among-college-students.html>.
Anonymous, Anonymous, Personal Interview. 1 Nov. 2011
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Trudeau , Michelle . “More Students Turning Illegally To ‘Smart’ Drugs : NPR.” NPR : National Public Radio : News & Analysis, World, US, Music & Arts : NPR. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Nov. 2011. <http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=100254163>.