Editorial: The danger of pharmaceutical drugs in academia

The abuse of psychostimulants has seen an increase in college students seeking to get an edge, particularly with the approach of finals. The culprit at the crux of the problem is Adderall. There is a common misconception that this drug will increase academic results due to its potential to focus concentration.

A study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations in 2009 surmised that approximately “6.4 percent of full-time college students age 18 to 22 used Adderall.” Moreover, 89.5 percent of these students reportedly partook in binge drinking and were three times more prone to have used marijuana and other recreational substances.

Adderall is a class II drug. According to the DEA this is defined as “substances, or chemicals defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, less abuse potential than Schedule I drugs, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.”

Despite its classification, this deceptively harmless pill used to treat attention deficit disorders, such as ADD and ADHD, and narcolepsy, has gone so far as to stop being referred to as a drug. The level of acceptance of this synthesized amphetamine is due to its widespread availability, and the erroneous view that overrides the warnings in favor of reaping its benefits.

Feeling pressure to do well in school is overwhelming for a lot of individuals who are driven to look for extreme measures that involve something other than good, old fashioned caffeine to keep the somnolence away and remain single-minded in their scholarly duties. Blame is placed on exceedingly high academic expectations in the endeavor to increase mental alertness.

Failing to understand that the ingestion of this medication has the same effect on non-diagnosed individuals is common. Although Adderall can improve the performance of these people when given learning tasks involving memory, it may not be as effective to people who do not need help correcting attention performance deficits.

The negative collateral damages of psychostimulants are severely underestimated, and that involves addictions that potentially develop into cardiovascular problems and psychosis, and can carry repercussions on short term memory. Adderall is commonly known to aid in studying temporarily while running the risk of dependency that in the future can significantly affect your thought process, and impact mood swings and overall functionality. Additionally, the FDA concluded that Adderall can affect seizures and may lower the convulsive threshold. Furthermore, it may cause “manic symptoms in patients with no prior history, or exacerbation of symptoms in patients with pre-existing psychosis and aggressive behavior.”

While many students may decide that their academic careers are more important than their health and well-being, it is important to keep in mind that taking such pharmaceutical prescription drugs without the diagnosis that requires their consumption can, and will, lead to long lasting future consequences.