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Adderall commonly abused, but dangerous

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Vyvanse, a medication commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editor

Adderall and drugs like it are being widely misused and abused, a counselor in the Office of Student Life said. And some students said the pills are fairly cheap and easy to get.

Adderall and similar medications such as Ritalin are commonly prescribed to treat disorders like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and attention deficit disorder, but not everyone who takes them has a doctor’s permission.

“Students often start using (Adderall) to enhance their alertness while studying and to help them pull all-nighters to prepare for a big exam or to complete a paper or project,” Curtis Haywood, assistant director at Student Life’s counseling and consultation service, said in an email. 

According to Addiction Center, a website geared toward providing information about addictions and treatment centers, high school and college students are some of Adderall’s most frequent abusers. Adderall is the most popular prescribed amphetamine and one of the most commonly abused substances in the U.S. It’s abused for reasons including weight loss, studying, athletic performance and for recreational use. 

A report by the University of Maryland’s Center on Young Adult Health and Development said 31 percent of college students surveyed used prescription stimulants for nonmedical purposes in 2011, while 61.8 percent of college students were offered them. 

Using the medication when it’s not prescribed can be very dangerous, Haywood said, especially when it’s combined with other substances, like cocaine, which can be damaging to the heart. 

“People with a pre-existing heart condition can be especially at risk,” he said, “It is addictive and in cases of severe abuse can lead to even psychotic symptoms such as auditory and visual hallucinations.”  

But some students said the abuse of drugs like Adderall is quite common.

A third-year student who wished to remain anonymous because of her illegal drug use said she has used Adderall twice during finals. 

“I was curious the first time and the second time it worked,” she said. “It makes you really, really focused so you don’t realize that you’ve been studying for hours. You don’t get tired, you don’t get hungry, but once it wears off, you crash.”

She said it’s not difficult to find or expensive to buy. 

“It’s so cheap. It’s only $2 a pill, but sometimes students bump up the price to $5 during finals. My sister takes it all the time,” she said. 

Marisa Simon, a third-year in early and middle childhood studies, said she takes Concerta, which is prescribed to her and is similar to Adderall. 

Simon said other students ask her for her medications, especially during finals. 

“It’s usually my close friends. They’ll say like, ‘You know you can sell those for a lot’ or ‘I have a midterm coming up, I wish I had something to help me study.’ So they kind of hint at it but I’ve never given or sold it,” she said. “I need it. My personality and grades can’t afford to lose a medication that enables me to be as focused as most people without medication.”   

Kiya Keili, a second-year in psychology, said she and her friends hear people talk about Adderall frequently. 

“I know my friends and I talk about it a lot, about how other students use it but we don’t take it or actually know anyone who takes it. I just know there are students who take it to help them do better on their midterms,” she said. 

Correction: Nov. 6, 2014

The medication originally depicted in the photo illustration incorrectly said it was Adderall when in fact,  the medication was Vyvanse.

2 comments

  1. I have always had attention problems. As someone who just got an amphetamine prescription, it is life-changer. The neurological interaction makes your brain function more neurotypically.

    If you are privleged with a normal attention span and still look to take adderall, shame on you. It’s damaging your brain, not making it more normal like it’s supposed to in proper administration. You may as well go binge drink afterward, or drop some acid.

  2. It is always a little difficult for me to focus now at work and in college as well. I have taken Adderall to help me study and even though I was definitely able to get my studying done I felt strung out after not sleeping. I didn’t want to take Adderall after that because of the horrible side effects it has on our bodies so now I just take supplements that have almost the same effect but are natural. I have tried Addieup and Addrena but Addrena is the one I stick with now as it has more brain boosting ingredients. It is not exactly like Adderall as it is only an OTC alternative but it does the job and I have also seen some weight loss from it because it makes me sweat like crazy when I work out while taking it.

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