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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Adderall abuse risk to grades, mental health”

    As course work increases on campus, some students will risk their own personal health by taking stimulants such as Adderall, Concerta and Ritalin to help them keep up with their school work.

    “”It’s a stressful time for students,”” said David Salafsky, interim director of health and preventative services at Campus Health Services. “”Add in that we’re moving into cold and flu season … this is the time when people tend to get sick,”” he said.

    Adderall and other stimulants are used to treat attention deficit disorder and “”have more potential for abuse when it is taken outside of its prescribed use,”” Salafsky said.

    Alex, a UA senior, said that such illegal use of Adderall is “”very common”” and that he uses it about three or four times a semester “”because it increases the amount of time I can focus on something dramatically.

    “”Instead of two hours of decent studying, I can go for periods of seven hours,”” Alex said. About two-thirds of his friends at UA have used Adderall to help them study at least once, he said.

    “”The potential for addiction is great,”” Salafsky said. “”Adderall is chemically similar to methamphetamines”” and its abuse can be serious, he said.

    Because Adderall can allow people to focus for long periods of time, it “”creates the sense that they can do better in school,”” Salafsky said.

    This can “”become a vicious cycle”” leading to abuse and addiction, he added.

    Alex does not get sick during test time often, but starts studying two weeks before his exams and always makes sure to eat properly and sleep at least six hours every night. As for Adderall, he said that “”unless you have 15 hours of work to get done in one night … simply don’t take it.””

    “”(Adderall) completely eliminates your desire to eat”” and will usually keep you awake for about nine hours, he said.

    Alex prefers not to use time-release pills, because “”they don’t work as well … (and) will keep you awake for longer, but you will be less focused,”” he said.

    The UA Student Quality Sleep Surveys, conducted from 2005-2007, indicated that students who receive enough quality sleep tend to perform better academically and to have better health outcomes, Salafsky said.

    Max Gardner, a communications sophomore, said he decided to stop taking Concerta, a time-release ADD medication similar to Ritalin because of the negative side effects and the way it made him feel.

    Gardner said he was prescribed Concerta for seven years because he “”has horrible ADD and it helped calm me down.””

    While he was taking it, Gardner said he experienced daily headaches and noticed that sometimes when he would take it all the time, he wouldn’t feel like himself.

    Gardner said he believes that no one needs medication to study and that “”the more you study without it, the easier it will be.””

    “”The secret to minimizing stress during exam times is really no secret at all. Eat nutritiously, exercise, get plenty of sleep and prioritize what you need to do,”” Salafsky said. “”Students who find ways to do these things tend to do better on their exams and are less likely to get sick when they can least afford to.””

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