Chemical boost helps studying, could kill you

Ryan Szymczak

Now men can fake it, too.

Not like that.

There’s this somewhat secret avenue to academic success.

Become intelligent today. No waiting in line. Few questions asked.

Yes. You can have the study skills of Rain Man – if you know someone with a prescription, reading the phonebook can become your new idea of fun.

College students with the connections are effectively disconnecting from reality, sinking helplessly into their chairs and flooding their drugged-up state of consciousness with information that, I assure you, will be on the final exam.

In a study published in December 2006, titled Illicit Use of Specific Prescription Stimulants Among College Students, made available at, doctors hailing from pharmacy schools and substance abuse centers found that 8.3 percent of students admit to using prescription stimulants.

Of those who admitted it, the most commonly reported motives were to improve concentration and increase alertness. Not surprisingly, other motives included getting high and experimentation.

I’m all for legitimately diagnosed ADHD adults tweaking their waning attention with Adderall. Settle down there, little fella.

However, these little blue and orange pills are changing hands, changing minds and short-changing non-users.

So, are you for or against performance enhancing drugs?

Major League Baseball fans at ballparks nationwide continue to stigmatize the new Home Run King’s tainted achievement. They have this habit of holding up asterisks every time he tows his mutated body to the batter’s box. The message? Performance enhancing drugs are a misrepresentation of an individual’s achievements. Fraud.

It’s advertised primarily as a smart pill. At, the company claims that the use of the drug will lead to “significant and sustained improvement in academic productivity and behavior.” It also mentions, in a smaller font, something about ADHD.

It’s too easy to get, really. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, the adults who qualify for mind-enhancing psychotherapeutics will often find it troublesome “to get organized, to stick to a job, to keep an appointment.” Other excuses to get medicated include chronic difficulty with getting up in the morning, getting to work on time and being productive – all of which pose problems for the ADHD adult.

And at about $2 per pill, they cost less than energy drinks.

The Web site boasts that since 1996, 50 million prescriptions have been filled for Adderall. The numbers will likely climb as ambitious underachievers continue to swallow their way to the robots just ahead of the grading curve. We could suggest fool-proof evaluations to weed out who really needs to be on this stuff and who’s just answering the questions the right way.

‘Cha-ching, cha-ching’ is stretching the whole concept of sound reasoning just a bit. But when it comes to the bottom line and profit margins, pharmaceutical companies can’t help but appreciate basic and ambiguous methods of diagnosis.

Well, the robots certainly appear informed and comfortably serious in that zone.

Awkwardly sedated, too.

Be careful, though, robots. The National Institute for Drug Abuse confirms that chronic use or even one high dose, can cause irregular heartbeat, heart failure, paranoia and even seizures. Gulp.

Ryan Szymczak is a senior English major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].