Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 22nd 2014 Contents A32
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Around this time of year, you re more likely to
find college students in the library cramming for
final exams than out partying. In an environment
where the workload is endless and there s always
more to be done, a quick fix to help buckle down
and power through becomes very tempting.
Prescription ADHD medications like Adderall,
Ritalin, and Vyvanse are becoming increasingly popular
for overworked and overscheduled college students---
who haven t been diagnosed with ADHD.
"Our biggest concern...is the increase we have
observed in this behavior over the past decade," says
Sean McCabe, research associate professor at the
University of Michigan Substance Abuse Research
Full-time college students were twice as likely to
have used Adderall non-medically as their counter-
parts who were not full-time students, according to
a National Survey on Drug Use and Health report
released in 2009.
ADHD stimulants "strengthen the brain s brakes,
its inhibitory capacities, so it can control its power
more effectively," said Dr Edward Hallowell, a psy-
chiatrist and ADHD expert. "They do this by increas-
ing the amount of certain neurotransmitters, like
dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine."
Students say they take these stimulants for the
"right reasons," to be more productive in classes and
to stay afloat in the sea of intense competition.
In a 2008 study of 1,800 college students, 81 per
cent of students interviewed (DeSantis 2008) thought
illicit use of ADHD medication was "not dangerous
at all" or "slightly dangerous." While the picture of
a methamphetamine user has hollowed cheeks, rotting
teeth, and skin sores, an amphetamine-dextroam-
phetamine (Adderall) user looks just like anybody
"It helps me stay focused and be more efficient,
which is very helpful with the chaos of college," says
one university student who takes Adderall anywhere
from once a month to a few times a week, depending
on her schedule and workload. Students did not want
to be identified because of their illegal use of the
Yet these drugs are Schedule II substances, sitting
pretty on the Drug Enforcement Administration s
list right next to cocaine, meth and morphine.
"College students tend to underestimate the poten-
tial harms associated with the non-medical use of
prescription stimulants," McCabe says.
Students may not know the stimulant s documented
contraindications (situations in which a drug might
be harmful) or recommended precautions or how it
may interact with other drugs, McCabe says. Hallowell
is also concerned that students taking controlled
substances without prescriptions and physician super-
vision, noting that they may not know the dosage.
Short-term adverse consequences include sleep
difficulties, restlessness, headaches, irritability and
depressed feelings. Other side effects include loss of
appetite, nervousness, and changes in sex drive.
The long term risk of psychological and physical
dependence is of concern for routine users that may
find they do not feel they can function optimally
without it. Schedule II substances are classified by
the DEA as having a high potential for abuse.
"The fact that it s illegal really doesn t cross my
mind," one student says. "It s not something that I
get nervous about because it s so widespread and
The biggest barrier to changing attitudes is the
effectiveness of stimulants on campuses where the
ends justify the means, researchers believe. After
those late library nights, many students praise the
little pill that got them through their hefty textbooks
and into the morning.
After taking Adderall, says one university student,
"I just feel very alive and awake and ready for chal-
lenges that come my way."
"I m on page 15 (of my paper) in just a few
hours...and I m very confident in it." (cnn.com)
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and advice
Just say yes? The rise of
'study drugs' in college
Links Archive April 21st 2014 April 23rd 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page