A College Combination of Midterms and Adderall
Yesterday, he woke up at 9:30 a.m., took his double dose of Adderall, for which he has a prescription, and went to class all day. Halfway through his world history class he realized: there’s a six page paper due tomorrow, and he hasn’t even started yet.
After class, he rushed home to take two more adderall and crank out his paper. After hours of highlighting passages from the book, furiously typing and jamming the delete key, he looked at the clock: 4 a.m. It was hardly enough time to get any real sleep before he had class again. That is, even if he could sleep.
Michael, who would rather not give his full name, is part of a larger trend of college students in America.
Adderall is an amphetamine prescribed to those who suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, to boost concentration and help focusability, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
Full-time students are more than twice as likely to take Adderall as people their age who are not enrolled in college, or those who are only enrolled part-time, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
One in five high school students were found to have abused prescription drugs, like Adderall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The proliferation of “study drugs” in colleges is no secret, but students who take the drug, both inside and outside of prescriptions, admit that the effects of Adderall are not all positive.
Michael turned in his paper on time; and he received a decent grade, but the next day he went to class running on no sleep and a few more Adderall. Since he had not spaced the doses out, he ended up spending another night working, instead of sleeping.
“If I’m not careful about when I take my medicine, I end up doing all-nighters,” he said, “Sometimes consecutive all-nighters. It’s a terrible situation to get in. It affects everything in your life.”
Insomnia is a common side-effect of Adderall, along with irritability, overstimulation and restlessness, according to the FDA warnings.
In rare cases, the drug has even been known to cause psychosis, according to the FDA.
Long-term effects of the drug include cardiovascular problems.
In addition, while Adderall does increase his ability to focus on tasks–it is not always easy to focus on what he wants to focus on, he said. Sometimes, he will spend a whole night cleaning his room, instead of studying for the test like he wanted.
For Michael, these negative effects compete with the positive effects of the drug, which he has been taking since the seventh grade.
“I could write a paper or take a test without my Adderall, but it would take a lot longer,” he said. ”For a paper, my thoughts wouldn’t be as organized and it wouldn’t be as good. For a test, it would take longer, like I might not even finish the test.”
Many other students interviewed and in other news sources use Adderall outside the bounds of a prescription to pull a one-time all-nighter for a big midterm or make up for time lost to procrastination.
For even more students, though, prescription drug abuse is not just a one-time thing. Between 20-30 percent of college students in the U.S. regularly abuse Adderall, according to estimates this year from the American Psychological Association.
Michael is no stranger to friends asking to buy some of his Adderall.
“You kind of have to keep it a secret that you have a prescription,” he said. “Just so you don’t have hundreds of people calling you and asking for Adderall.”