Adderall use aids academics but has dangerous implications
Our parents’ generation got high off weed, acid and LSD. Sadly, our generation’s drug of choice is far from recreational and gets passed around college campuses like breath mints. Without it, we can’t cram all night for tests, finish papers in half the usual time or make it through a full day of classes. The one drug we can’t seem to function without as undergraduate students is that little blue amphetamine that we lovingly call Adderall.
Twenty minutes after ingesting the stimulant you can begin to see why students can’t get enough of them. Your heart rate quickens, your thoughts begin to race in an orderly fashion, you have a sudden urge to do all of your work in one sitting and you become unnaturally focused. But few people realize what the stimulant could be costing them.
As a Schedule II controlled substance, Adderall joins the ranks of cocaine, morphine and Oxycodone in the group of drugs that can cause a severe psychological or physical dependence and have the highest abuse potential. It’s more than a risk, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which reports that the commercial distribution of commonly abused pharmaceuticals including Adderall increased by 109 percent from 2000 to 2004. More people are being prescribed to ADHD medications than ever before.
‘I got a prescription for Adderall because when I take it, it allows me to focus for longer periods of time and not be distracted,’ said senior English and textual studies major Farrell Fisher. ‘After a 15-minute interview and a short questionnaire of rating symptoms, the doctor prescribed me to 10 to 20 grams of Adderall taken twice daily. That’s up to 40 grams in a day – which is a lot for someone who has never been prescribed to ADD medication before.’
The common side effects are pretty standard for ADHD medications which include loss of appetite, weight loss, insomnia, headaches, and dizziness. The severe side effects, however, are scary enough to think twice about pulling an all-nighter.
Adderall was banned from the Canadian market when 12 people died of Sudden Death Syndrome. Suspicions were confirmed in 2006 when the FDA suggested the application of a ‘black box warning’ due to the increased risk of SDS in patients with heart problems. These warnings apply to those who take the prescribed medication in the correct doses, not just to Adderall abusers.
‘Patients who develop symptoms such as chest pain during exertion, unexplained fainting or other possible heart symptoms should promptly get a heart evaluation. Sudden death, stroke, and heart attack have been reported in adults taking stimulant drugs at usual doses for ADHD,’ said the FDA label.
I know we all think it’s OK to pop pills when it’s for school; it keeps our folks off our backs and our GPAs high. The harsh truth is that while it makes us work harder, faster and more efficiently, the use of Adderall as an ‘academic steroid’ could have fatal consequences.
Katherine Paster is a contributing columnist for The Daily Orange. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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