Adderall Abuse in College

I was recently asked a question of my ask.fm account (http://ask.fm/MDPhDToBe) regarding how I feel about Adderall abuse in college. Unfortunately, my response was too long to fit in the space allotted for a response because it is such an important topic to address. Therefore, here are my thoughts:

I highly suggest that you do not abuse Adderall or any other prescription drug, especially to help you do well in college. These drugs are only available by prescription for a reason. If you feel you need to take it for self-diagnosed ADHD or narcolepsy, see your doctor to be diagnosed and get a prescription that way.

If you need more convincing, here’s some reasons why abusing Adderall is a bad idea:

1) Side effects and drug interactions. Adderall has plenty of side effects, some minor, some serious. Overdosing can result in cardiac and/or pulmonary arrest, death, severe and lasting mental effects/defects to name a few. If you abuse Adderall, your tolerance to the drug will likely go down so you will likely take more and more of it, increasing your chance of overdosing. If you overdose and you’re anywhere but near medical professionals, your chance of living is slim. This is an extreme case, but it is always a possibility. Other side effects include anxiety, transient depression, heart palpitations, elevation of blood pressure, Tourette’s syndrome, seizures, stroke, and psychotic episodes or plain old psychosis. The negative effects of taking Adderall are amplified by drug interactions. There are 488 drugs that have drug interactions with Adderall, 36 of those interactions are major. Even the common drugs acetaminophen (found in Tylenol) and ALCOHOL can amplify the negative side effects of Adderall. Receiving a prescription from a doctor is important because they will make sure that you can avoid these detrimental drug interactions.

2) Addiction. Adderall is highly addictive, so much that you will find it difficult to ever study again without it. As I previously mentioned, this can lead to a greater addiction as tolerance is increased which increases your chance of overdosing and it can lead to a whirlwind of addiction to other drugs.

3) THE LAW. THE SALE, POSSESSION, AND USE OF ADDERALL FOR ILLEGITIMATE PURPOSES IS A FELONY. FELONIES ARE ON YOUR RECORD. MEDICAL SCHOOLS, FUTURE EMPLOYERS, ETC. CHECK YOUR LEGAL RECORD. THEY WILL PROBABLY NOT LOOK ON IT TOO KINDLY. PLUS, FELONIES ARE PUNISHABLE BY DEATH OR IMPRISONMENT IN EXCESS OF ONE YEAR. DON’T RISK IT.

4) Violation of honor code. While this isn’t a thing at every school, some schools like Wesleyan University are taking the stance that the use of pharmaceutical study aids, like Ritalin and Adderall by students without a prescription is a violation of the university’s academic honor code.  Many other universities hold a similar prohibition through their non-academic honor codes. It’s not even that you will get caught, but you will then have to live with knowing that your academic success is partially attributed to taking an illicit drug. It’s not fair to your fellow students who are not taking drugs to help them study and it’s not fair to you because of its negative effects on your body and it will likely lead to dissatisfaction with studying without it. If you ever run out of it, you’re screwed.

BOTTOM LINE: DO NOT ABUSE PRESCRIPTION DRUGS. Strive for academic success in an honest way. If you need to help yourself focus on studying, drink coffee. Caffeine is still a drug but it a legal drug that is less potent, less dangerous, and available to all. Even better yet, EXERCISE. Exercise has been shown to boost your mental focus and cognitive performance for any challenging task you face that day. Plenty of us have made it through college without using prescription drugs to help us study, so it can be done without drug abuse.

Related articles:

Adderall: The Most Abused Prescription Drug in America. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-ronald-ricker-and-dr-venus-nicolino/adderall-the-most-abused_b_619549.html

Are study drugs a form of cheating? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/13/wesleyan-university-answe_n_761495.html

4 Ways to exercise to boost brain power. http://www.boston.com/dailydose/2013/03/07/ways-exercise-can-boost-your-mental-performance/nI4DA55GaKDZbdrAk9EmiO/story.html

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Hanna is a MD/PhD student at the University of Illinois and an aspiring physician scientist who aims to specialize in hepatobiliary cancers. She is also passionate about teaching, leadership, and advocacy. The energy she once used to pep up crowds as a college marching band member is now directed toward exciting and educating others about science and medicine, especially through her tweets at @MDPhDToBe and her blog at www.mdphdtobe.com.

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3 comments on “Adderall Abuse in College
  1. joe says:

    I totally agree. I fell in that adderall trap in college but it was the help of the adderall alternatives that got me off the pills. Those adderall alternatives supplements helped me in cognitive enhancement much better than adderall ever did. Heres a nice site i found that reviewed the best adderall alternatives http://www.bestadderallalternatives.com/over-the-counter-adderall-alternatives

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