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Non-prescription usage of Adderall dangerous, detrimental to academics

Guest Columnist

Published: Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 14:03

What happens approximately three times a semester on college campuses, including our humble abode? People pull open their drawers and yank out their little Ziploc bags or cases filled with Adderall pills, a prescription drug intended for use by people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Midterms and finals are the most popular times for students to use this pill, but that does not mean Adderall use ceases to exist throughout the school year. The question is: Why do people feel the need to take this potentially dangerous amphetamine?

There are three main reasons. Adderall curbs one's appetite, so some people use it as weight loss method. Also, as a stimulant, Adderall has its recreational users. However, it is taken most often by those without prescriptions as a study drug. Certainly, the other two uses can cause serious health issues as well, but I will choose to address its existence as a study drug in this piece.

And so we come to another question of "why?" Why do students need a mind-altering substance just to get their work done? Are all professors vindictive harpies trying to take control of every waking hour of our lives by filling them with work? This is, by most accounts, unlikely. Of course, many students do not take the drug at all, and this writer is willing to bet that you would not find any correlation between Adderall use and grades. The answer is simply that students across this country do not have efficient study habits.

Even if someone has the worst possible study habits imaginable, I have bad news for them: Adderall is going to do more damage than good, and it may actually not help them at all. In my middle school history class, my teacher explained an interesting historical fact that I have found can be applied to everyday events. Eons ago, before reading and writing were commonplace, or even in existence, people recounted stories, news and poetry by word of mouth. The people who told these tales had to remember every last word, because there was no way to record it in a book. In that time, people's memories were much better than ours today. We do not need to remember as much information, because we can just write it down. I am not arguing against literacy, of course, but I am giving a factual example of the saying, "If you don't use it, you lose it." When a student always uses Adderall to complete difficult, or even not so difficult tasks, how can he or she expect to be able to do any of those tasks in the future without the drug? We can forget how to rely on our own mental facilities that are fully capable of completing the jobs at hand, and we can become dependent on a drug.

Of course, there is the fact that Adderall is an amphetamine, or speed. If someone does not have ADHD, then the drug may not considerably improve that person's focus. The only study benefit it may have is that it can keep someone awake longer. However, once one is studying to the point that she can no longer stay awake without a drug, then almost none of the material is being retained. So, in the end, Adderall, for non-prescription users, is merely a placebo, if not detrimental to studying.

Students would not even have the urge to take this drug if their study habits did not, essentially, force them to. If you surveyed the student population and asked them at what point in the day they spend most of their time studying, I almost guarantee that the majority would claim they did most of their studying at night. This is an old habit most of us retained from high school. Doing work at night was a feasible way to go about life back then, but not so anymore. My advice, and it has worked well for me this past semester, is to accomplish as much studying during the day as possible. Many of us have decently long breaks between classes, and there is almost no better time to study. Our minds are still in an academic state from class, and we will be able to work efficiently. It may not seem like you have enough time during the light hours, but if you take the time to actually schedule your class day, you may find most of your work done by dinner. For those of you who want make big changes in your study habits, I recommend author and blogger Cal Newport. As I just mentioned, his tips have greatly benefited me already this year.

As this article and many more before have stated, unless one is prescribed Adderall, it will not have the desired effect of increased focus on anyone. Those are the straightforward, scientific facts. I am an economics major, and one of the most important ideas in the discipline is the concept of efficiency. I believe that striving for efficiency in our work lives can only lead to a less stressful and happier state of mind.

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Thu Sep 20 2012 01:47
I support this article! Tons of people who abuse Adderall just want to antagonize you in order to defend their own habits, but you're doing a good thing! There's no free lunch, man, Adderall is as taxing on your body as you make it, and yes, it is abused a little and a lot.
Thu Apr 15 2010 15:40
Yes i agree this article is rubbish, there's ton's of studies on how psychomotor stimulants such ass the amphetamine mix in adderall can greatly increase alertness and performance. Be informed, check your facts, and don't write a clearly one sided article when you have no idea what you're talking about.
Carson Robinson
Sat Apr 3 2010 11:36
Everyone needs to STOP trying to reason their way to appropriate medical advice. There are a few questions here.

1) Do Rx pills help people without ADHD? (only a little bit)
2) Are Rx pills addictive? (basically, no)
3) Are Rx pills a placebo? (you bet!)

And so on. The answer is in the science literature so READ THAT instead of using reason and anecdotes. And in reference to comment below, wow GREAT that's so cool that amphetamines help fighter pilots! The people taking Aviation 325 will be so thrilled to hear that!

And who is this Cal Newport person? He's NOT a psychologist! Don't buy his books it's fake! Self-help programs, just like Rx pills, can have side effects and illusory benefits.

Fri Apr 2 2010 21:23
The author couldn't be more wrong about amphetamines. Amphetamines are proven to increase performance. Thats why they give them to air force pilots at "go pills" before they go fight.

Amphetamine is awesome for studying, it doesn't make you smarter but it makes you like a sponge that can better soak up information. Its all about taking the right dosage. Anyways, good luck studying.... I would highly recommend some amps.

Wed Mar 31 2010 22:37
"So, in the end, Adderall, for non-prescription users, is merely a placebo, if not detrimental to studying."

You assume too much friend, not true!

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