Adderall has become a popular tool for students in college settings, who often take the stimulant drug without a prescription and illegally obtain it from friends or acquaintances.
Use of Adderall by individuals, particularly college students who do not have a prescription, is a hotly-debated issue with regard to health concerns, the cheating component and illegality.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health website, Adderall, a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, is used to help control symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which include difficulty focusing, controlling actions and remaining still.
Matt Haverim, a 22-year-old senior operations and information management major, said he uses the drug depending on his workload.
“Yeah, I’m not prescribed it,” Haverim said. “I take it depending on what’s going on in my schedule. I used to take it a lot more than I do now because for a while, I couldn’t really study without it. But some of my best writing happens when I take Adderall.”
He said that because the stimulant drug is so commonly used among students, it is difficult for him to consider it as an unfair advantage.
“I never thought of it as cheating, just because it’s so widely used,” he said. “All my friends talk about it, do it, use it, whatever. At least in my circle, compared to the people I know, I wouldn’t consider it cheating.”
Similarly, Brittany Reynolds, a 21-year-old senior international affairs major, said she believes the drug’s ample availability for students, whether legal or not, makes it more acceptable.
“I guess I don’t really see it as cheating,” Reynolds said. “I think you can get it really easily, and it can help with your studying. I think if you know what you’re doing with it, and you take it, like, knowing what could happen, then it’s okay, but [for] people who overuse it and stuff, it’s pretty detrimental.”
Some students say they do not consider abuse of the stimulant drug on college campuses as pressing of a health issue as alcohol abuse or eating disorders, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health website, possible side effects of taking Adderall can include difficulty falling or staying asleep, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, seizures, aggressive or hostile behavior and mania.
Daniel J. Courtney, manager of the Psychological Health and Psychiatry clinic at Wardenburg, said students who rely on stimulant drugs like Adderall will often experience a negative effect where their ability to focus is compromised.
“Taking these stimulant medications can have a very negative effect, particularly for those students who don’t have ADHD who may think that Adderall is going to be helpful for them,” Courtney said. “A paradoxical effect, actually, that can compromise their ability to focus and study.”
Haverim said the negative effects of Adderall make it impossible for him to focus when other minor distractions may get in the way.
“There have been many times when I’m focusing on somebody clicking their pen or typing, and I’m trying to focus on my paper, and all I can hear is that clicking of the keys,” he said. “It drives me nuts, and I can’t do anything. I just have to go home and take a nap or something.”
Alexandra Morrison, a 21-year-old senior communication major, said she has also personally experienced the negative effects of Adderall.
“I don’t think it works for everybody,” Morrison said. “I’ve tried it, and it doesn’t work well at all for me. For me, it does kind of the opposite. I just stay up all night. It inhibits me to do well on my tests.”
Despite this, she said she does not consider Adderall a form of cheating on behalf of her fellow students.
“I think that if we thought of Adderall as a cheating tool, we’d have to think of coffee as a cheating tool, something that keeps you awake,” she said. “I don’t think that drinking coffee is cheating. It’s just another thing that helps people study. It’s not giving them answers; it’s just that [a study tool] for some people. It helps you focus and also makes you stay awake, like coffee.”
Reynolds said Adderall is sometimes seen as a good study tool.
“It’s becoming a more and more popular way to study,” she said. “Now, it seems like a disadvantage if you don’t take Adderall.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Neda Habibi at Neda.firstname.lastname@example.org.