Brain-enhancement drugs, becoming a millionaire, living on a high — it’s the stuff only found in Limitless starring Bradley Cooper, right?
Well, to an extent, college students throughout the U.S. have found their own brain-enhancing pill: methamphetamines.
When midterms and finals approach, hordes of students flock to the library to study. Some students pour over notes in an attempt to cram last minute before the exam, while others spend countless hours dedicated to mastering the material. Whichever strategy, many college students seek the help of drugs like Adderall or the more often prescribed Vyvanse.
Both are often prescribed as a means to increase dopamine levels and norepinephrine in the brain for concentration and focus — a usual prescription for patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The drugs usually activate within twenty minutes of consumption and last between four to six hours, sometimes even eight to twelve hours depending on the dosage amount and type of the drugs.
UTSA junior John Lender* confessed that he would only use it for last minute studying or for tasks that required a long period of attention such as writing an essay. Taking an ADHD medication is an all-too common practice among college students who think the medication will cause a more favorable academic performance or just keep them focused longer.
The problem is that because many of these students are not prescribed this drug, leading to a new world of drug dealing. Instead of just saying “no” many students are asking who, what, where and how much?
According to Dr. Steven Pliszka, a Dielmann Distinguished Professor and chairman of psychiatry at University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, “There is a misconception on the idea that [Adderall] would increase the quality of work for those who do not have the disorder. Rather, it is better to study all semester to understand the behavior of the subject.”
How are students accessing Adderall? For some people, they simply go to the doctor’s office and lie. However, this method is not foolproof.
Dr. Pliszka explained that patients with ADHD are typically diagnosed as children, so when patients come into the office, it is easy to identify those falsifying their symptoms. In fact, it is a crime to provide false information to doctors to gain substances.
Yet for those successful at illegally obtaining methamphetamines, they are able to provide access to everyone else via social media such as Yik Yak, Twitter and Facebook simply by advertising or answering inquiries for the drug.
While some may use it for their own temporary enhancement, others use it for quick cash. A recent study by the National Institute of Health illustrates that approximately “213,633 tweets mentioned Adderall” from November 29, 2011, to May 31, 2012. The study showed tweets usually included multiple hashtags to garner attention.
In another study conducted by National Survey of Drug Use and Health report, approximately 30 percent of students use stimulants non-medically. The use of Adderall without a proper prescription often leads to short term consequences that include difficulty sleeping, agitation, headaches, irritability, loss of appetite, anxiety, over-focused thoughts on a specific idea and much more. Though many become interested in the substance because of the misconception that it will help them academically or before completing a daunting task, in some cases it paves the way for addiction.
There are cases in which individuals require larger doses to feel the drug’s effects and just to stay attentive to their surroundings. What starts off as a small dose in the early stages of substance abuse sometimes goes awry and leads to possible addiction.
Dependence on Adderall does not deliver intellectual enhancement. Instead to set forth academic success is through hard work, perseverance, and time management. The consumption of Adderall, and other stimulants especially for nonmedical purposes, may be inefficacious and ultimately ineffective.
* Name has been changed