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Matthew Specht

T/Th Class
4/12/16

Focusing in on Adderall: The Obsession


When I was a freshman in high school, I was diagnosed with
Attention-Deficit Disorder, or ADD for short. It was about time. Ever since I
was a child, I have always struggled with paying attention; whether the
setting was in class, a social occurrence, or even at work- I just could not
concentrate. Daydreaming was frequent. I regularly could not keep up with
things. So finally, my parents were convinced I had ADD, and I got prescribed
medicine. This wonderful medicine came in the form of a pill, a pill that the
doctor said would help me focus better and relax a little more, a little pill
called Ritalin.
Fast-forward to college, and here I am still taking Ritalin, because I still
have ADD. Now, Ritalin is actually an alternative form of the more popular
drug known as Adderall. And, if there is one thing to know about Adderall, its
that college students love it. The reason? Well first off, Adderall is used to
treat the symptoms of patients suffering from ADD (like me), or ADHD. More
specifically, the drug enables the person to focus better on tasks they tend
to have trouble completing, such as studying for a test (WebMD). When
prescribed, the medication typically starts off with a dosage of 10 milligrams
in the form of a pill. The effects of Adderall to the prescribed user usually last
from 3-6 hours. So, coming from these statistics regarding what exactly
Adderall does to the user, you can probably see why so many college
students are trying to get a hold of it. In fact, Dr. David Rabner, senior research
scientist at Duke University, and Sean Esteban McCabe, associate professor at the University of

Matthew Specht
T/Th Class
4/12/16
Michigan, estimate that about 30% of students across college campuses use or

have used stimulants such as Adderall, Vyvanse, and Ritalin, non-medically.


Studies have also shown that full-time college students are twice as likely to
use Adderall non-medically than part-time students (USA Today). Coming
from personal experience, I can see why full time college students are more
likely to illegally take Adderall than their part-time counterparts. Ever since I
started attending UNC-Charlotte, I regularly see people whom I know are not
diagnosed with ADD or ADHD that are taking Adderall to do homework, study
for an exam, or even take it just to take it for no reason at all. I even know of
a few people who have went to their doctor and acted like they had ADD
even though they didnt, just to get a hold of some study pills. I quickly
realized that Adderall was a common drug on my campus, and that I should
definitely NOT tell anyone that I am prescribed Ritalin. I havent even told my
roommates that I have ADD and that I am prescribed Ritalin, only because I
know that they would badger me to give them some for a test or something.
Yes, I actually have to hide my prescribed medicine, even though it is strictly
prescribed for me and ONLY me.
If so many college students are illegally taking Adderall, does that
make it seem like the drug is easy to attain? No doubt about it. And if the
drug is easy to attain, that must mean a lot people are prescribed the
medication. Correct. So, it must be concluded that a lot of people suffer from
ADHD, right? Maybe not. The process of being diagnosed with ADHD is not
extraneous at the slightest. In fact, some critics say that the disorder has

Matthew Specht
T/Th Class
4/12/16

become incredibly over diagnosed in the past decade (Newmark). And I


agree. In a 2010 study in the Journal of Health Economics, researchers found
that the youngest children among U.S. kindergartners were 40% more likely
to be diagnosed with ADHD and twice as likely to take ADHD medications as
the oldest kindergartners studied. Coming from this study, one could argue
that doctors may likely be misdiagnosing these children with ADHD, ignoring
the fact that these children may just be exhibiting the normal,
developmental stages of childhood, such as acting immature or flagrant. In
fact, the author of the study estimates that misdiagnosis of ADHD could
account to up to 20% of the current ADHD diagnosis in the United States,
which is equal to about 900,000 children! This means that there are many,
many people who take Adderall that might not even need it. Misdiagnosed
children could be one of the root causes of the consistent distribution of the
drug across college campuses, because people who dont actually have
ADHD may feel more obligated to sell their medication to their peers for
something in return. Coming from personal experience, it really isnt very
difficult to be diagnosed with ADHD. It took the doctor about ten minutes to
conclude that do in fact have ADD, and wrote me a prescription for the
medication shortly after. All I had to do was describe the symptoms I and my
mother had noticed, and in just a few minutes I had been diagnosed.
Most people who illegally take Adderall do not know the health risks of
taking the drug when not diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. The drug is
intentionally prescribed only to ADD or ADHD patients for a reason. Adderall,

Matthew Specht
T/Th Class
4/12/16

which most people dont know, is actually an addictive drug that could lead
to major health issues (Drugs.Com). Addiction can lead to overdosing.
Overdosing, a common, unfortunate cause of death, is possible if one takes
too much of the pill. A very similar concept that is associated with addiction
is dependency. Dependency to an ADHD stimulant is scary as well. Students
may develop a mindset that if they are not on Adderall, then they wont be
able to study for a test or even do a little homework. This dependency is
what drives addiction. There are other side effects from taking Adderall other
than possibly becoming addicted. For one thing, your appetite goes out the
window while under the effect of Adderall. That is why weight loss can occur
while taking the drug, and personally, I dont like the fact that I dont eat
while taking my medication. Another effect that Adderall normally subdues
on the user is sleeplessness, which can be convenient because most of the
time, the whole reason students take the drug is to be able to stay up all
night studying for a test. The side effects that come along with a healthy
person taking Adderall are not too severe, obviously. But one thing that
people dont normally consider when mindlessly taking Adderall while not
prescribed is that they could possibly die from a combination of the medicine
and a certain health issue that the user may not be aware they have, such as
high blood pressure or heart disease. Sudden deaths HAVE happened to
some people with these health problems! It is imperative that the risks of
non-medically taking an ADHD stimulant such as Adderall need to be
recognized by college students and by the general public as well.

Matthew Specht
T/Th Class
4/12/16

So, why are college students and even some high school students not
being more careful when it comes to non-medically taking Adderall? Are they
to blame? Are they too young and foolish to recognize that they shouldnt be
drugs they arent supposed to? Yes, of course they are to blame. But not only
them; the education system plays a role as well as general society as a
whole. There needs to be an increase of awareness when it comes to
students who non-medically take ADHD stimulants. In a study conducted at a
large university in southeastern United States by Alan DeSantis, Professor of
Communications at the University of Kentucky, 1800 students were
interviewed and asked certain questions about Adderall (CNN). Out of those
surveyed, 81% of those students thought that Adderall is not dangerous at
all or slightly dangerous. Unlike more popular drugs such as marijuana
and alcohol, Adderall seems to be disdained as a harmful drug by the general
public, even though it is a Schedule II drug (DEA)! If you didnt know,
Schedule II drugs are defined as substances that have a high potential for
abuse, and include other powerful, dangerous drugs such as cocaine,
methamphetamine, oxycodone, and more. Does this scare you? Shouldnt
this scare you? Well, the fact of the matter is that most people dont know
that Adderall can be very dangerous, and that it is associated with cocaine
and other highly addictive drugs. That needs to change.
One concern that could arise from colleges and universities around the
country about Adderall consumption on campus is that it provides students
who take it with an advantage (USA Today). An advantage over those

Matthew Specht
T/Th Class
4/12/16

students who do not use ADHD stimulants, whether they choose not to or
because they dont have someone that could provide them with the drug.
Imagine if you were studying for a test with a friend in the same class. Now,
imagine if your friend took an Adderall before studying for the test and you
didnt. Your friend keeps talking about how motivated he or she is, and how
they can focus SO much better on the material by taking that Addy. How
would you feel? Would you feel as if they have an advantage over you due to
the fact that the illegally took Adderall? I know I would if I was the one not
taking the pill. Well, its true. There is an advantage. So, if students who are
NOT diagnosed with ADHD are taking medication to help them focus and
score better on tests, shouldnt that be considered cheating? Absolutely. And
universities around the country need to consider this. Yes, it is clearly
impossible to drug test every single student on campus just to see if they
have been poppin addys. But, if there was a way to find out just who has
been illegally taking prescription stimulants, then the Adderall game would
change. Students who are caught illegally taking Adderall to beat the essay
deadline, or to cram information into their heads all night for a test the next
day, should be punished for cheating by the school system. It is imperative
that the school system has to take action against these students, not only to
enforce the cheating aspect of it, but to also reiterate to the students
themselves that Adderall is a dangerous drug and there should be zero
tolerance for illegal users.

Matthew Specht
T/Th Class
4/12/16

To wrap up this essay, I would just like to conclude and restate the fact
that the rapid use and demand of Adderall amongst the college population in
the United States needs to take a turn in the other direction. It is crucial that
some sort of public awareness is raised across the country about the
dangerous effects of ADHD stimulants when taken non-medically, and that it
cannot be seen as a harmless pill that helps people concentrate. There are
plenty of efficient ways to study or do homework that do not involve taking
Adderall as an aid. The people who pay all of their attention to acquiring and
taking Adderall need to shift their focus on a legal, healthier way to study.
SARAHAN MOSER COMMENTS: First of all, I really enjoyed reading your essay.
I like the way you write as if you're having a conversation with the reader. It
kept me engaged in your paper and made it fun. Also, it was really cool of
you to share your personal connection with the disease. It made the paper a
lot better because it made your topic significant. My only critique is that I
think you may be confused some on how to cite a paper using MLA format. I
would look over the article titled Common MLA Errors that Professor
Campbell emailed us. Other than that, great job!

Matthew Specht
T/Th Class
4/12/16

Works Cited

"Adderall: Uses, Dosage, Side Effects & Safety Info - Drugs.com." Adderall:
Uses, Dosage, Side Effects & Safety Info - Drugs.com. Drugs.Com, n.d. Web.
14 Apr. 2016.
"Adderall Oral : Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Pictures, Warnings & Dosing WebMD." WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2016.
"DEA / Drug Scheduling." DEA / Drug Scheduling. DEA, Drug Enforcement
Agency. Web. 14 Apr. 2016.
Newmark, Sanford. "Are ADHD Medications Overprescribed?" WSJ. The Wall
Street Journal, n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2016.

Matthew Specht
T/Th Class
4/12/16

Venegoni, Luisa. "Illegal Study Drug Use on the Rise, Not Addressed by
Universities." USA TODAY College. USA TODAY, 18 Nov. 2014. Web. 14 Apr.
2016.
Yanes, Ariana. ""Just Say Yes?" The Rise of 'Study Drugs' in College." CNN.
Cable News Network, 14 Apr. 2014. Web. 14 Apr. 2016.