Opinion: The study drug isn’t as great as it seems

Samantha Karam

When students think of a good time, it usually involves a substance like alcohol. But college students are using one drug almost exclusively for work, not play. It’s called Adderall, an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication.

Kaitlyn Hutzell, a 17-year-old Kent State post secondary student, said Adderall gave her the ability to stay up all night studying with immense focus and no serious side effects.

So, supposedly, it’s effective, convenient and harmless.

A study said that fullproof sounds too good to be true. So I conducted some research and asked two professionals to tell me a little more about the drug and its effects.

A 2005/2006 national study found, of more than 1,000 college undergraduate students, 34 percent reported using ADHD stimulants.

When you look at the big picture, yes, 34 percent is a minority number. But University Health Services psychologist John Schell said Adderall use is still considered a growing issue because students using the medication as a study aid tend to overlook serious risks associated with it.

These risks fall into three main categories: physical, psychological and legal.

Angela DeJulius, director of University Health Services, said Adderall is a stimulant. People could experience the physical effects of jitteriness, increased heart rate and appetite suppression.

DeJulius said legal Adderall use starts with a diagnosis and strict assessment. Physicians look at factors like a patient’s height, weight and additional medications they’re taking.

Doctors like DeJulius are required by law to conduct these assessments in order to determine whether or not Adderall is necessary for individual patients and also how much a healthy dosage would be.

Students who buy Adderall illegally obviously skip the assessment portion and therefore don’t learn anything about dosages, bodily reactions or what their best alternative is.

DeJulius said this could lead to side effects ranging anywhere from hand tremors to seizures. Adderall affects each person differently, so those users not prescribed to it won’t know how their bodies react until they take it. By doing this, they risk serious consequences.

Also, I don’t think many students think about the effects that take place beneath the skull’s surface.

Schell, who specializes in ADHD and attention deficit disorder (ADD), said Adderall creates a psychological dependency over time, meaning it’s addictive.

This means the more you take, the more you need. Eventually, students won’t be able to focus without the drug. It’s pretty ironic that the pill students are using to help focus, disables them from focusing on their own.

In addition to health concerns, DeJulius said the illegal selling and buying of Adderall is a federal offense. It’s drug dealing, even if you’re just selling to a friend. DeJulius said law enforcement takes Adderall dealing seriously because they know how common it is amongst students.

College is an incredibly busy time, and there’s a lot of pressure to do well in class. However, risking personal and legal safety can’t be the only conclusion. Students need to consider these hazards before singling Adderall out as their only option to get a good grade.

Samantha Karam is an opinion columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].