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.