Using un-prescribed ADHD medication: Deceitful and Dangerous

By Kortney Ondayko | 5/3/14 3:31pm

I get it: finals week is every college student’s hell. It’s a time of massive stress, pressure and nervousness all packed into one little week of end-of-the-year papers and exams.

However, what I don’t understand is student’s frequent use of un-prescribed Adderall or other ADHD drugs during finals week to enhance their performance while studying.

In a recent study lead by Andrew Adesman, a developmental pediatrician and chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, one in five college students at an unnamed Ivy league school have misused ADHD drugs to enhance their performance on an assignment of some sort.

Adseman did not name the university he studied because he believes that these numbers are consistent throughout the population of college students, not just Ivy leaguers. Obviously, even the statistics show that mistaking ADHD drugs is a prevalent trend within college students.

My problem with taking un-prescribed drugs to better your focus lies in a few different areas. First would be that it is – HELLO – un-prescribed. Taking a medication that changes substances in your brain without a physician’s consent is scary. Just because your friend with ADHD responds well to Adderall, does not mean you will. For example, there could be drug harmful drug interactions if you take any other prescribed medication with an ADHD medication.

Also, there are always risks with illegally buying prescription drugs. The dosage and type of ADHD medicine are not going to be what is personally best for you.

There can also be damaging side effects to taking Adderall such as addiction, insomnia and agitation.

Once you take an ADHD drug, you have to be very careful and aware of the other substances you put into your body, specifically alcohol. It can be life threatening to mix prescription drugs, like Adderall, with alcohol.

Purchasing a pill from someone does not come with a pharmaceutical list of side effects and potentially fatal drug interactions.

My other major problem with illegally taking ADHD medication is that it is a form of cheating. ADHD medications are considered performance-enhancing drugs. To make a comparison, it is socially unacceptable for athletes to use performance-enhancing drugs because it gives them an unfair advantage: because they are cheating the other players.

This is the same idea with taking un-prescribed ADHD medication during finals.

How is it fair if I study all semester long, push myself to do my best and discipline myself to focus and concentrate to study, when someone who simply pops an illegal, un-prescribed drug can easily change chemicals in his brain to study for as long as they need to without any effort?

The answer is that its not. It is not fair to those who abide by the rules and don’t take illegally bought substances to help them focus or cram for a test.

However, cheer up law-abiding, non-illegal prescription drug taking students!The good news for us is that the benefits of taking Adderall, and other ADHD drugs, are pretty much outweighed by the costs.

According to a recent Detroit Free Press article, “several studies have shown that students who misuse ADHD drugs are already on the academic fringe, with lower grades and more drug and alcohol problems than their peers” and Sean Esteban McCabe, a research associate professor at the University of Michigan Substance Abuse Research Center, states that these drugs won’t actually help these at-risk students improve their grades: that all those legal and health risks are taken for “more of a myth than reality.”

So pat yourself on the back. Because it is hard not to fall into the trap of taking a little pill that people claim will help you study and subsequently boost your grade.

Instead of working on an honor code of students not taking performance-enhancing drugs, I suggest GVSU look to Duke University and write it specifically into our code of conduct. Buying and selling these drugs un-prescribed is not only totally illegal and it is considerably dangerous, but it is an academic short cut.

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