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Kinsey Bagwell sits in class with her eyes

roaming, brain lagging, and thoughts running off


in jagged paths. Every morning Bagwell begins
her day with a hearty breakfast and a caffeine
boost to try and gain focus for the day, but it
doesnt seem to work. Bagwell, a junior advertis-
ing major at the University of Oregon, is one of
many students who think they may need medica-
tion for their inability to focus.
Word has circulated through college campuses
of a way to invigorate, energize, and deliver the
concentration needed to sit down and write that
term paper or cram for a midterm, and it isnt
drinking copious amounts of coffee. Instead many
are looking for that drive in capsule form and have
found it in dextroamphetamine mixed salts, better
known as Adderall. While Adderall use as a study
aid among college students has increased over the
past few years, a new trend has arisen that is much
more detrimental.
An amphetamine based psycho-stimulant,
Adderall was approved by the Food and Drug
Administration in 1996 for those diagnosed with
Attention Defcit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Quick Fix...
Or Dangerous Pick?
The Modern Life of Adderall as College Students Push the Enevelope
by Rebecca Gibson
The Daily Emerald
February 19th, 2013
Extended Release Adderall. Photo taken by Patrick Mallahan III.
and a sleep disorder called narcolepsy. A new phe-
nomenon shows college students taking non-pre-
scribed Adderall to achieve the same effects as
those who have been diagnosed with ADHD.
A 2005 University of California study found that
one in fve college students has taken Adderall
without a prescription. And why not? Its the norm
in American society to simply take a pill if things
arent working right. Got a backache? Pop some
Advil. Cant get to sleep? No problem, heres an
Ambien.
Logan Ellis, a senior human physiology major
at the UO, has been taking Adderall for 10 years,
since he was in the ffth grade. Ellis believes that
the questions asked during his evaluation were
leading him to a diagnosis of ADHD. 'It honestly
felt like just a formality, and that she had already
decided to give me the meds when I made the
appointment weeks prior, Ellis says.
Bagwell also underwent a psychiatric evaluation
in 2011 and found herself in a similar situation,
but ended up not going on the medication. Instead,
she tries to focus in class and on school work
without the aid of pharmaceuticals .
Along with its use for studying, Adderall is
also used by some as a recreational drug similar
to cocaine. Ellis is often asked by other students
to share his prescription.
Adderall has become so
popular that the UO price
goes from $5 a pill to
$10 during midterms and
fnals week.
While he admits he
will sometimes share it
with friends if they are
all working on a proj-
ect together, he says, 'I
absolutely do not sell it to
anyone I suspect would
use it to get high or use it
in any recreational sense.
In general I dont think
people should be taking
this unless they need it; I
mean its basically a low dose of speed.
ADHD is seen in children before age 13 and is
characterized by an extreme inability to sit still or
focus. Only four to six percent of the U.S. popula-
tion would actually meet the diagnosis of ADHD.
Those who are prescribed the drug say it allows
them to lead a productive and 'normal life. By
kick-starting the production in the brain of do-
pamine and norepinephrine, Adderall accelerates
these neurotransmitters associated with attention,
but also behavioral aspects like mood. To be
prescribed Adderall, the patient must go through
a full psychiatric evaluation. The psychiatrist will
also collect childhood history from teachers, and
often interview parents.
Rick Friedrich, a staff psychiatrist at the the
UO Health Center, has been working with stu-
dents here for almost 14 years. Dr. Friedrich says
that in his time at the UO, he has seen a dramatic
increase in the number of students attempting to
get a prescription for Adderall. Dr. Friedrich says
its easy for students to fake their way through an
evaluation by attempting to display the character-
istics of ADHD. 'Anyone can go online and look
up the symptoms, he says.
While physicians and psychiatrists debate about
whether taking Adderall every once in awhile is
truly dangerous to the health of those self-admin-
istering, taking something that isnt recommended
to you by a doctor is al-
ways risky. It makes it eas-
ier to abuse the drug, miss
an undiagnosed condition
that may create complica-
tions, or to become addict-
ed. Dr. Friedrich worries
about those with underly-
ing psychological or addic-
tive issues who may fnd
themselves attracted to the
sense of euphoria Adderall
creates. For those who con-
tinually take Adderall, they
are tampering with their
sleep and eating cycles.
Sleep deprivation com-
bined with the stimulant in
Adderall can lead to a multitude of other problems
including anxiety attacks, tremors, irregular heart-
Pharmceutical Frenzy. The use of non-prescribed
adderall use is on the rise on college campuses. Photo
credit: Creative Commons Images
beats, or fainting.
Characteristically, 20-somethings have a ten-
dency to push the envelope. College is a time of
exploration and discovery, and this often translates
to risky behavior. The drive to look a certain way,
or to have the most fun leads some
students to use Adderall as a tool to
accomplish these goals.
Steroids have generally been the
drug of choice for gym rats, but now
some are turning to Adderall to give
them that energy boost and suppress
their appetite at the same time. '[Ad-
deralls] main side effect for me is
that I dont eat at all. In high school I was down to
115, and I can assign most of the blame to taking
Adderall daily, Ellis says.
Lauren Miller*, a senior marketing major has
been using Adderall to assist in her quest for the
'perfect fgure for three months now. Miller has
struggled with her weight since middle school and
claims to have tried every diet on the market with
little result. 'All these fad diets haven`t helped me
at all. Ill try them, and when they dont work, I
feel even worse than before, Miller says.
Miller frst tried Adderall her sophomore year
when a friend with a prescription gave her a
capsule during fnals week. 'I had so much more
focus and energy, Miller says. She had heard
from girls in her sorority that using Adderall gave
them more energy to work out, and she decided to
give it a try.
Instead of the jittery energy caffeine gives her,
Miller feels a different kind of energy that allows
her to spend a longer amount of time exercising
without fatigue. In the past, Miller also struggled
with cravings and eating in a balanced way. 'I
would eat really healthy for three days--all salads
and water--then cave and binge for the next three,
then start all over on Sunday, Miller says.
Currently, Miller will spend around two hours
at the gym and fnds that the Adderall leaves her
without much of an appetite. 'I can get the good
work in, and burn a crazy amount of calories at
the gym, and then Im not starving like I normally
would be, eating everything in sight and canceling
that work out.
She has lost 17 pounds since she started this
regimen and feels great when people notice the
change. Yet she also admits that when she doesnt
take the Adderall, she feels shes in a daze and is
down or depressed for no reason.
Aside from dieting, students are also
using Adderall to push themselves to
the limit in their social lives. Since the
drug creates a sense of alertness and
clarity, college students are popping a
pill before they head out for a booze-
soaked Saturday night. It allows them
to stay up longer and keep drunken
sleepiness or a muddled mind at bay.
Blake Chandler*, who is a junior at the UO
studying business, saves the drug for nights when
he wants to party hard. 'If I know that me and my
friends are really going to get after it on a Friday
or Saturday night, Ill take an Adderall, Chandler
says. 'That way I can drink a lot and be able to
stay up way later and not get tired and miss out on
anything.
Dr. Friedrich believes this is a really dangerous
activity. If youre taking Adderall and canceling
out the signals that alcohol gives you, 'What`s
your cue that youre getting too drunk? Dr. Frie-
drich says.
Students seem to be pushing themselves to the
absolute limit in their academic, physical, and so-
cial lives. So much so that they are willing to buy
medication from friends to reach their goals of the
highest grade, the perfect body, or the best party.
This drive to succeed in these areas of their lives
is putting them at a greater risk than they know,
or care to acknowledge. While not everyone who
tries Adderall will be immediately addicted, Dr.
Friedrich is concerned for those who are using
Adderall to try to fx other problems in their lives.
The American culture promotes the quick fx,
encouraging medication to eradicate the symp-
toms, but not the root problem. Once students get
hooked on this seemingly magical pill, many dont
see a world without it.
In general I dont
think people should
be taking this unless
they need it; I mean its
basically a low dose of
speed.
*Sources asked that their real names not be used for
this article.