Students who have been quoted for this article preferred to remain anonymous. Their names have been changed for the story.
You have an 1,000 word english essay, a massive economics test and a statistics project all due tomorrow, what do you do?
Many high school and college students have found a solution to all these stressors: Adderall.
Adderall is a drug used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. It is a stimulant that helps one stay focused and swallow impulsive behavior. That being said, Adderall isn’t just used for those with ADHD, Adderall has crept into the pockets of anxiety-ridden students who just want to succeed in school.
A former SAS student who now lives in the United States named Tom says, “I take Adderall because it allows me to work harder and better. It keeps me up when I would otherwise have been asleep hours earlier, and in my late nights working I get much more work done than I usually do. It also lets me work extremely fast and helps with memory.”
Another former SAS student who lives in the U.S. Sarah has similar reasons why she takes Adderall, “I take Adderall during exam week to stay up … and mainly it just keeps me awake and super focused.”
Since Adderall is a prescription drug, how do those who don’t have ADHD obtain it?
Tom explains how he gets the drug, “I get Adderall in two ways. I used to get it from a friend whose doctor prescribed much more than they needed. I now get it from a friend whose father is a doctor. Their dad has a friend who can write prescriptions and has easy access to Adderall. He actually offers his child Adderall on a regular basis to help with work.”
“Their dad has a friend who can write prescriptions and has easy access to Adderall. He actually offers his child Adderall on a regular basis to help with work.” – Tom
Adderall use has gone mainstream. Many of my friends from the U.S. and SAS alum have taken Adderall before, and many use it quite frequently. The problem with Adderall is it helps you focus, but it still is a drug. It has addictive qualities and once you finish using Adderall you will be left with some uncomfortable side effects.
Sarah explains, “It depletes your appetite so you forget to eat … It makes my vision bad and I grind my teeth so much that my jaw is sore.”
Tom adds, “I feel absolutely no need to sleep … I also experience a loss of appetite. “
According to WedMD common side effects of Adderall use are chronic trouble sleeping, being easily angered and annoyed, having a false sense of well-being, throwing up, a loss of appetite, being nervous, and having upper abdominal pain.
Many students think that Adderall is a safe study drug; nothing to worry about. Realistically, Adderall can produce intense repercussions if you’re overusing it. In addition to the common side effects listed here, futurity.org reports that the drug “can also cause sleep disruption and serious cardiovascular side effects, such as high blood pressure and stroke. It also increases the risk for mental health problems, including depression, bipolar disorder, and unusual behaviors including aggressive or hostile behavior.”
Former SAS student Anne reveals why she first took Adderall saying, “I wanted to see what all the hype was about. It definitely made me more focused, but it got the best of my anxiety.”
The feeling of “anxiety” that Anne mentioned makes sense since she came from a country that has such intense drug laws, it isn’t the norm to be around or use drugs, specifically drugs geared toward helping you in school.
We know that Adderall use is avid among students in the United States but what is it like in Singapore — a place with such jarring drug laws?
In Singapore General Hospital’s article “Students fake symptoms to get ‘brain booster’ drug,” the writers discuss the drug Ritalin, another ADHD medication being used in Singapore among university students. The investigative team learned from a 23-year-old graduate student that “a small circle of classmates take it to cope with examinations” and that such pill-popping has been going on for at least a decade.” The source asserts that “many of us found out about the drug from upperclass students.”
The story adds that local psychiatrists have implemented a series of checks to ensure young adults claiming to have ADHD are not doing it to get Ritalin. Most ADHD cases are diagnosed during childhood, said Dr. Chan Herng Nieng of Singapore General Hospital. When anyone over 19 comes in claiming they have ADHD, he requires that they bring their report book and, in some cases, provide parental consultation to verify their academic history.”
Even in Singapore, a country with extreme penalties for drug use, this is a problem. From the Indian ocean to the Atlantic, Adderall is a major issue. So what do we do? Why do students feel they need to take drugs to succeed? Do our school’s systems standards need be lowered if capable students are finding it difficult to cope without the use of performance-enhancing drugs? Clearly, the health of students is being threatened by their personal drive to be the best they can be. These questions and many others will become the subject of debate as more and more students begin to experiment with both the pros and cons of “enhanced” study.