The Study Drug: Why Adderall Use Is Never Worth It

For those of you on the quarter system, finals are just around the corner. You’re likely feeling stressed at the end of this long year, and only just over the hurdle of your most recent midterms. You’ve heard stories of a friend of a friend who was able to stay up all night on energy drinks and Adderall, then aced his Organic Chemistry final. Sound familiar? What you may not be familiar with are the risks of  falling into such behavior yourself, the least of which is getting caught for a disciplinary offense. 

Adderall is a widely misused drug commonly referred to as the “study drug.” It’s most commonly abused by college students, though it is rapidly gaining in popularity with high school students across the country. In fact, according to data from Monitoring the Future, “10% of high school sophomores and 12% of high school seniors take these attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drugs without a prescription from their doctor.”

It’s unclear why many college and now high school students turn to Adderall use, but some claim it is the high expectations set upon them to get betters grades in school.  Many high school students also begin to feel the pressure to perform better on finals at the end of the year. This pressure can be from parents, academic advisors, or just the increased competition to get into the right college. No matter where the pressure comes from, students will often use Adderall to help them to focus better, have more energy and motivation or spend hours awake cramming in last minute studying.

If you or  your friends are thinking about trying Adderall to help you cram or write a last minute paper, know the facts first:

The real purpose of Adderall is to help individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. The drug can become habit forming if not taken properly, which means if you suddenly stop taking it after a prolonged period of time, physical dependency or withdrawal symptoms will be common.

Adderall is not good for your health if abused and there are serious side effects it can have on the body such as nausea, tremors, heart failure, chest pain, paranoia, and hyperactivity.  It is very important to not mix Adderall with other prescription drugs or alcohol as this could lead to a potential overdose, a potentially fatal health risk.

It’s okay to worry about your grades and future. That’s not a bad thing, and you may believe that Adderall will help you get into that top college you’ve had your eyes on or help you ace your calculus final. The truth, however, is that there is no magic pill that can get you through high school, college, a future career or life. The only thing that can help is hard work and dedication. Try being as organized and prepared as possible. If you’re a last minute type of person, begin studying or writing a paper several days before it’s due. Make note cards, organize study groups, and ask a friend or parent to quiz you. If you are worried about exams, talk to your teacher. Most teachers are flexible about staying after school to help you understand a concept if you are unsure about it.

If you are feeling pressured by your parents or any other authority figures, it’s best to speak up about your concerns. Let your parents know that you want to get into a great college but are overwhelmed with performing well on exams or in class. There are many alternatives to drug abuse that can better help you focus, such as exercise, vitamins or just a better balanced diet. Adderall should never be the answer unless you depend on it to control a hyperactivity disorder and it has been prescribed to you by a doctor. Because while Adderall use may temporarily give you the energy you need to focus on small tasks,  those effects won’t last forever. The side effects, however, may be much more long-lasting, just like the disappointment you’ll feel at receiving a higher grade for giving yourself an unfair advantage over your peers.

Face it: drug abuse is not worth risking your future and the great things that are yet to happen. And drug abuse is exactly what you’re engaging in if you ever take Aderall without a prescription.

Melissa currently writes for St. Jude Retreats, a residential retreat for alcohol and drug misuse. As well as writing for St. Jude’s, Melissa enjoys blogging about health and relationships.