by Louis Oprisa.
Warmer weather typically means more sundresses, cargo shorts, and iced coffees around college campuses. It also signifies the onset of the bane of many college students existences; finals week! Generally reserved for the last couple weeks of a semester, finals week is the time of year when young adults wind up spending more time on social networking sites complaining about the volume of work they have to do as opposed to actually doing it. In recent years however, many students have opted to experiment with ways to keep their attention focused. An emerging alternative has been the use of the prescription drug Adderall.
Adderall, which falls under the category of an amphetamine, is typically prescribed to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder in the hopes of enabling the patient to focus on their studies and/or work. Due to the ease of its accessibility and the common conception that it is mostly harmless, its popularity has exploded since the 1990s. Aggregate production of amphetamines increased steadily every year in the 1990s, according to a report from the Drug Enforcement Agency. The trend has continued into the new millennium as the number of parent reported diagnoses of ADHD skyrocketed 22% between 2003 and 2007 (Centers for Disease Control, 2011). Adderall prescriptions went up 13.4% from 2009 to 2010, and more than 18 million prescriptions were written for the drug, Reuters reported.
People prescribed to the medication are not totally oblivious to the emergence of its popularity, and such attention makes them think twice about whether or not they want to continue taking it. Says one CUNY student who has a legal prescription to the medication, “I can’t really speak for anyone else, I know that it was a last resort for me and I don’t plan on using them for long. I do believe that a person should try to go as long as possible without them because it’s a dangerously easy situation to fall into. Not as easy to get yourself out.”
What is the “dangerously easy situation” that this student is referring to? It is the threat of dependency that befalls many students who wind up taking it without a valid prescription. One of the unwelcome pitfalls of amphetamines is their ability to make the user crave the substance in order to function, either normally or in an “above and beyond” capacity. People who abuse Adderall are prone to the typical side effects of most other amphetamines; the fatigue which propelled them to try the drug in the first place (only more intense and consequently tempting for the user to continue their drug use), heart palpitations, loss of appetite, and poor sleeping patterns that either mirror or exacerbate insomnia.
A survey distributed to City College students asked what good alternatives are to taking the drug. A sense of contempt was prevalent among the answers, as answers ranged from “Not taking Adderall like a normal person…” to “Get over it and do your work on your own.” Other responses sounded more in line with what a physician would likely tell a patient; to aim to have a solid sleep schedule, and to opt for green tea and water in favor of caffeine or other stimulants.
Students who may have a problem with drugs are advised to visit the Wellness & Counseling Center in the Marshak building, in room J-15. The center is open 9AM to 5PM every weekday except Tuesday, when it is open from 10AM to 6PM.