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Saturday, November 1, 2014 | Last updated: 4:00am

Adderall abusers uninformed on risk



All across the country, students are abusing Adderall for performance’s sake. They start out thinking that it’s OK as long as they take it only once or twice.

But Adderall’s allure keeps bringing them back with the seductive high you can only get with amphetamines.

It is a Schedule II drug, which is the tightest legal control the government can place on prescription drugs. They need to realize that with each pill they take, they’re that much closer to becoming addicted.

Adderall is a widely prescribed drug for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. According to the Food and Drug Administration, it helps patients with focus and concentration issues. With doctors’ monitoring patients can lead as normal a life as possible.

“(Adderall) makes me do work for a ridiculous amount of time,” said Rachael Sacks, a geography freshman who has ADHD. “Before, when I first started taking the drug as medication, not even once a week, I’d freak out and clean stuff. Without it, I sleep all the time, don’t get anything done and am crankier for sure.”

However, too much use can lead to abuse.

Dr. Raymond Kotwicki, the medical director at the Skyland Trail mental health treatment facility in Atlanta, told CNN Health that drugs like Adderall can “lead to psychosis, a mental disorder that includes the loss of contact with reality.”

Additionally, he worries about pressure on students to be perfect, saying, “If you’re a student and you feel you are not good enough to be able to do things without the aid of external help, that’s an idea that gets reinforced that can lead to a whole bunch of different problems.”

A 2009 report by Scientific American suggests that while there are short-term benefits of the drug, long-term use could alter brain function enough to increase the risk of depression and anxiety. Young brains are particularly vulnerable because they are not fully developed until their mid-20s.

At the UA, many students admit to using Adderall when the pressure to excel becomes too much. With all the stress and pressure of doing well in school, some say that they can’t help but turn to the “smart drug.” Others feel that if they don’t take the drug they are at a disadvantage. Students are using the drug to combat term papers and finals, and they’re actually winning the battle with their “study buddy.”

Two UA students who admitted to using Adderall without a prescription said their main motivation was to focus while studying without having to drink coffee or energy drinks.

It’s unfortunate that students feel they have to resort to popping pills in order to stay competitive academically. Adderall is the steroids of academics, it’s illegal, unhealthy and users are going to pay a much bigger price than they bargained for.

The risk of dependency is too great to ignore, as the classification of the drug can attest. The long-term use of the drug can cause permanent damage to the brain. Thomas Edison said it best, “There is no substitute for hard work.”

— Cheryl Gamachi is a pre-journalism freshman. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.


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