As the semester comes to a close at UWG, students are left with less and less time to finish papers, projects and studying altogether. Time is ticking. Coffee and Red Bull only offer so much of a kick before the caffeine crash hits. Quick fixes become tempting, and students are willing to pay a few bucks to find something to keep the all-nighter going. For many, this includes using, and abusing, prescription medications, such as Adderall.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists Adderall and Adderall XR as medications used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). For someone with ADHD, the effects of Adderall are intended to increase focus and productivity. For someone without ADHD, the effects cannot only be heightened, but they can include nervousness, dizziness and restlessness. More serious side effects, including irregular heartbeat, hallucinations and uncontrolled movement or voice sounds, can arise from the misuse and abuse of such drugs.
Adderall is also listed as a Schedule II drug by the Drug Enforcement Agency, putting it on the same list as cocaine and methamphetamines.
According to a 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health Report, “full-time college students aged 18 to 22 were twice as likely as their counterparts, who were not full-time college students, to have used Adderall® non-medically in the past year (6.4 vs. 3.0 percent).”
In a fall 2005 study of 1,811 undergraduates at a large, public southeastern research university, 34 percent reported the illegal use of ADHD stimulants. “Most illegal users reported using ADHD stimulants primarily in periods of high academic stress and found them to reduce fatigue while increasing reading comprehension, interest, cognition and memory. Furthermore, most had little information about the drug and found procurement to be both easy and stigma free.”
The most common reason, of course, is for focusing and studying, with more than 90 percent of students in a 2011 study citing this as their reason for using the amphetamine.
Stress becomes such a large part of student life during finals week that many end up withdrawing from finals for stress-related reasons. The Counseling Center at UWG handles many such cases.
“Any student who withdraws from classes typically does so for multiple reasons,” said Lisa Adams Somerlot, director of the Counseling Center at UWG. “It would be impossible to say that a student who was stressed, was stressed because they used drugs inappropriately, although that is a contributing factor for some.”
Is the dollar price worth the mental outcome? That depends on whom you ask. Students have a lot of tough choices to make during theses next few weeks. When to study? Where to study? How late to stay up? How to stay awake? Stress is approaching and so are different options to deal with it. Making the right choice could result in an A in English 1101,or it could find a student stressed out in the library at 3a.m. The decision lies in what you buy.