March 9, 2014

OVERHEARD | The Adderall Routine

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Overheard: Olin Library

“You’ve done Adderall before, right?”


“Do you know where I can find some? I have 3 prelims this week.”

Adderall, the new candy on college campuses, is the quick fix for the prelim and final seasons. With demanding course loads and rigorous extracurricular activities, students can be left with very little time and energy. For some of these students, focus-inducing stimulants can become a necessity. To be clear, I am not referring to the people who actually suffer from ADHD. Instead, I am talking about those who use Adderall to pull an all-nighter before an orgo prelim, or those who take a couple before starting a 12-page philosophy paper due the next day. Those students walked into Libe chatting about prescription pill usage as if it is just as routine as the snow flurries outside. This casual attitude towards drug use is the problem.

Taking from recent studies done on individual college campuses, The New York Times reports that almost 20 percent of college students have taken Adderall or Ritalin to complete assignments or study for tests. As a student who has never used “study drugs,” this statistic is alarming. Why, though? Adderall is a prescription drug; it is safe and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is alarming because many of these students are not diagnosed with ADHD, and more importantly, they are not prescribed the medication.

What effects could this drug have if taken with other drugs? How will taking this study “short-cut” affect future studying habits? Are there side effects to taking them? Can users become addicted? Last April, Natalie Rich, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s alcohol and drug intervention specialist, answered these questions, among others, when she interviewed with the Huffington Post.

According to Natalie, not only can “study drugs” have dangerous consequences when taken in conjunction with other drugs or alcohol, but also, for those who do not suffer for ADHD, the pills do not always achieve the desired results. For example, instead of being bitten by the study bug and digging into archeology, a student could be unable to sit still and be emboldened by a newfound excitement for the mundane. All of a sudden, it’s seven in the morning. Maybe you read the entire book on Machu Picchu, but more likely, you made the greatest Spotify study playlist to ever grace your Beats headphones. This is not the case for everyone, but I have encountered many unfortunate failed users of Adderall on my occasional morning excursions to the Cocktail Lounge.

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Using Adderall may seem like a terrific option in the short-term, but non-prescribed users should remember that every drug comes with risk. Whether it’s being too exhausted to actually take the exam the next morning, or getting a nervous tremor that makes it difficult to type, the quick fix is not worth the risk. Time manage or drink some coffee. Cornell students graduate every year without having tried “study drugs.” In fact, previous Sun articles have reported that only between six and eight percent of Cornell students have used “study drugs.” It’s time to bring this number down and realize the consequences.