Adderall: It’s what’s for dinner
Staff All-Night Study Sesh
Let’s not beat around the bush here, the fact of the matter is that once in every college student’s life, someone will prescribe or offer them Adderall. Its proliferation within the world of academia is so widespread that studies indicate up to 35% of all college students have at one time taken the medication, and it’s not hard to see why. Adderall is derived from an amphetamine salt, which when taken in prescribed therapeutic doses is proven to decrease fatigue and increase cognitive control. As such, the drug is usually prescribed to combat the symptoms of ADHD and narcolepsy, the former of which has quickly become the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder in the United States. While in the past these disorders were commonly treated with a drug called Ritalin (scientifically known as methylphenidate), this medication is less immediate and requires a steady routine of small doses to achieve its desired effects.
This is not the case for Adderall, which if we’re to be perfectly frank, is just a prescription version of methamphetamines. Its effects on the brain and nervous system are almost instantaneous, and speaking as someone who has used the drug, it’s awesome. I was never prescribed Adderall as a kid, but I was prescribed Ritalin to combat some serious attention deficit issues—a point that only truly dawned on me when I realized years later that the big playroom full of toys I was going to once a week for several years was actually my occupational therapist. Deep down, I had always known that my concentration and focus were not my strong suit despite the fact that I was never specifically diagnosed with a disorder. This, as it does to many students, just makes the prospect of the drug even more tempting. Once taken, working late into the night or even into the next morning feels like a breeze. Commonly known as the “study drug,” Adderall is obviously used to decrease fatigue in order to get through that cram session for a test you have in twelve hours. Should you have studied a week before? Well yeah, but then again, would it really be college if you didn’t complete things at the last possible minute? Didn’t think so. When taken, Adderall feels like the pill from Unlimited; you are smarter, faster, more focused, and you type at a rate that would make a court stenographer blush.
Then it wears off, and you are back to your old, spacey self. With that comes the reality of Adderall and its lesser-known cousin Vyvanse; it doesn’t make you smarter and most likely doesn’t make you more productive. It just makes you feel more awake and less miserable about being stuck in the library for another X hours. You see, despite having different effects, most drugs have similar reactions within the brain. For example, the release of dopamine creates a feeling of euphoria, among other effects such as the increase in concentration you feel when taking it. Many students try to justify their drug usage by telling themselves that Adderall is not “fun,” and that they take it because they must get work done. However, the truth is that most students enjoy stimulants for the same reason they enjoy any other inebriant; they just happen to be studying at the same time. It was this reality that I had to deal with, and as my college career went on, I felt myself needing to reexamine my relationship with the drug, and I still do.
Personally, I choose to stop studying while on stimulants because I feel that it creates a bad association in my own head in which stimulants equate to academic success. I am positive that if others were to do the same thing, they would realize that their grades are most likely going to stay the same, regardless of whether or not they were hopped up while doing assignments. But of course, I would be a hypocrite if I began to shame people for taking the drug because it does work, and sometimes it really does help grind out assignments and essays. At the end of the day, only you truly know yourself and your habits, and making a decision to take or not take medication is an extremely personal conversation that should not be taken lightly. The only thing I or anyone else can ask of their peers is to be careful. With some obvious exceptions, most things like drugs and alcohol are fine in moderation—just know when you’re getting too carried away. Everyone has a personal vice, and knowing that vice is important to living a happy life. Whether or not you let it define you is completely up to you.