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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Drugs and dishonesty

    “”I didn’t really know about it until people started talking about it,”” said Emily James, a nutritional science junior. “”I was telling my parents about it, and they think it’s crazy.””

    While there has been increasing controversy over the health risks associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder medications like Adderall, the real question among college students is whether the drug serves as an academic advantage to those who take it recreationally.

    For a Class B drug – those that are considered to have extremely high addiction rates – the culture surrounding the amphetamine-based medication seems to be more open than for other common college drugs. Groups on Facebook abound, including one titled “”Adderall Fiends,”” a group for students who “”would be failing out of school without it…you know who you are!!!””

    “”I first heard about Adderall during college,”” James said. “”To me, it was weird. I would never want to use it. I’d be worried that it would have a weird effect on me.”” Though she has never used the drug, James knows more than one person who has and believes it may have benefits where scholarly endeavors are concerned.

    She recalled a female friend in two of her chemistry classes who rarely attended the course, but instead relied on Adderall to help her through tests during the semester. Her friend arrived at class having easily studied for endless hours the night before.

    “”I’d give her all the notes the night before and she’d come to class and do better than me!”” James said. “”It was ridiculous.””

    Some students heard about Adderall long before they entered college. Student A, a UA student who has chosen to remain anonymous, heard buzz about the drug during his freshman year of high school and began using it soon afterward.

    “”My first experiences with the drug were pretty useful,”” he said of his sophomore year. “”But after a while, I got carried away with taking too much. I thought that I was focused, but I really wasn’t.””

    By the time junior year rolled around, Student A was using Adderall on a daily basis. At that point, Student A noted that the drug no longer helped him focus, but instead made him do “”inane procedures”” such as writing his notes over and over without retaining any information from what he had written.

    “”I wasn’t actually learning anything,”” he said.

    Student A said that while he believes the drug may give the students some academic advantage, the cases are more often situational than anything.

    For some students, they’re better off leaving the drug be. For others, it becomes a matter of memory maintenance, he said.

    Student A described a concept he had heard of called “”state memory”” in which students may perform better if they are in the precise settings – emotionally or physically – that they were at the time they studied.

    “”In that way, when they’re sober and not taking Adderall, it’s a lot harder to retain information than when you were using it,”” he said.

    Student B, an English senior who has also chosen to remain anonymous, said that although the drug has been popularized for its ability to assist with studying, he believes that the drug serves very little academic advantage overall.

    “”I find very little scholastic benefit from the Adderall,”” he said. “”I don’t think it improves cognitive functions. The only good thing about it is that it keeps you awake.””

    Student B said the effects of the drug on him – shortness of temper and emotional flatness – aren’t worth its supposed benefits, and that he doesn’t particularly enjoy the drug.

    “”It also does a very good job of making you think that it’s helping you, and a lot of people become very dependent on it for studying. So, in regards to that, I find it to be a more dangerous drug than it’s perceived to be.””

    Student B said that the drug stimulates so much energy, individuals under its influence have a constant desire to be active. However, the only real “”benefit”” he could think of was that “”you want to do things…but they’re usually never school-related.””

    James said that part of the problem with the drug may come from what she believes is a recent fad in which doctors have quickly written off students as having an attention deficit problem, medicating them with drugs like Adderall. She has seen those students then dole out the drug to their friends in need of all-night hyper-concentrated cram sessions.

    “”They give it to all their friends who don’t need it, but will use it,”” she said. “”The people that I know aren’t taking it because they’re prescribed it.””

    So what lies in the future of recreational Adderall users? Student A believes that once students leave the university setting, they will no longer feel the need to use the drug. Nevertheless, as long as students are prescribed the medication and easy access to the drug continues, its recreational usage will persist, he said.

    Student B took a different approach, explaining that the days of Adderall are perhaps shorter than one might think.

    “”I don’t foresee it getting any worse or better unless it’s replaced with something else, and right now, this is the most popular way to do it.””

    James said that with the difficulty of detecting whether students are using the drug, the future of non-prescription Adderall users won’t stop any time soon. It may even become more widespread as more students discover the drug, she said.

    “”If that’s your last resort, people are going to use it,”” James said. “”I think that once you use it and realize that you can slack off until the night before…once you’re hooked, that’s kind of it.””

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