Danielle Rennard – Culture Editor
With the intense stress of exams, extra-curricular activities, jobs and social lives, it’s safe to say that college students are willing to catch a break whenever possible. Sometimes studying for an exam seems like the end of the world, simply because you can’t concentrate or have a million other things that have to get done. That’s when “studying” turns into texting, eating junk food and watching TV with your textbook open next to you. This is why millions of college students have turned to taking a drug that will save them from failing out of school- or so they think. Is Adderall really a college student’s hero, or worst enemy?
Adderall is a drug prescribed to individuals who have Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, a neurologically based behavioral disorder characterized by the inability to pay attention, hyperactivity and impulse actions. Drugs like Adderall were created solely for those diagnosed with the disorder, not college students that can’t focus on studying for an exam.
So what are the risks of someone that doesn’t have ADHD taking this drug? A person with a normal functioning frontal cortex and dopamine levels will experience a sense of more motivation, focus and concentration. This is the exact reason why one in five college students take Adderall. The increasing problem, however, is that because it allows better concentration with less effort, people are at a high risk of becoming addicted. Students have admitted to seeing doctors and purposefully exaggerating symptoms of ADHD in order to become “properly” diagnosed. Others simply snag any pills they can get from friends that actually have a prescription for the medication.
Along with the possibility of addiction, other side effects include irritability and lack of creativity. Although studying for exams does not always require creativity, the issue is that the more Adderall is taken, the less creative the taker becomes overall. “These medications allow you to be more structured and rigid. That’s the opposite of the impulsivity of creativity,” says Dr. Heiligenstein of the University of Wisconsin.
On top of medical risks, there is also debate about whether undiagnosed students taking this performance-enhancing drug is fair. Some compare it to athletes that take steroids and having an unfair advantage over everyone else. Individuals that do not have ADHD and take Adderall are expected to work more efficiently, yet with less effort, which is also highly alarming because it can diminish our generation’s work ethic.
There are plenty of other, much healthier ways to increase your concentration and get in the zone to study or complete an assignment. Exercising before trying to sit down and tackle a ton of work or studying is an excellent method and snacking on something healthy, such as fruit, is also proven to help your mind awaken and function at its best. Meditation and yoga can be perfect for clearing your mind and allowing you to focus on the material you need to learn. So take control of your mind and get that “A” on your exam without the help of an unnecessary drug.