by Nooreen Moinuddin
You look at the time in your cell phone. It’s 2 AM and you decide it’s time to take a break from studying for your physics exam to finally write that six-page paper that you’ve been procrastinating all week. You’re so sleepy that your eyes are involuntarily closing and you don’t think that any amount of caffeine will help you. You think to yourself that the only solution to this horrible and painful mess would be for some kind of miracle to keep you awake, alert and focused for hours upon end so that you could finish all your work. As college students, this is more of a day-to-day reality than a hypothetical scenario. For many students, this “miracle” is called Adderall and it is helping them stay focused and productive when procrastination is at its worst.
The drug Adderall is a prescription for amphetamine-dextroamphetamine, generally prescribed by doctors to treat ADD (attention deficit disorder), ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and narcolepsy. This medication increases the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, which are neurotransmitters which increase the brain’s ability to focus. However, students are using it, some with and some without prescriptions in order to increase their attention span and productivity. In addition, Adderall is also being used to curb appetite, which allows students to be able to consume more alcohol and stay awake and party longer. A magic pill that can improve your grades, sleep and social life all in one seems like a college student’s one-stop-shop for happiness, but with every good thing comes repercussions.
Adderall is a schedule-II controlled medication. This puts it in the same category as cocaine and other highly addictive substances. Many students think that because it’s FDA approved, it must be okay to take. However, if you are not prescribed a medication by a doctor, then it is always dangerous to self-medicate yourself without your physician’s knowledge. As with other prescription medications, Adderall has many side effects, such as increased blood pressure, seizures, dizziness, light-headedness and fainting. Also, if unsupervised by a doctor, you cannot estimate the strength of the medication for yourself, not to mention the reactions it might have with other medications you may be taking, causing severe problems and even sudden death. Also, it is extremely addictive. After all, it’s a prescription for a reason. You won’t truly know the danger you are putting yourself in, unless a doctor authorizes you to take the Adderall.
We live in a country where we are always looking for the “quick fix.” You have a headache? Pop an Advil. You have a cough? Take some DayQuill. Can’t sleep? Take a couple of sleeping pills. Some believe that Adderall is just that, a medication to treat a college student’s worst and most common disease: procrastination.
“It works, that’s all that matters to me,” says junior Akber Farooqui.
However, some disagree.
“I wouldn’t use it,” junior Rasha Mateen said. “My life is more important than my grades. For people who are prescribed the drug, it’s different. But people who aren’t just shouldn’t be using it. There are a lot of natural and herbal ways to achieve the same affect.”
She’s right. Lots of vitamins and supplements can be used to improve one’s focus and memory. Ginko Biloa and Vitamin B are just a couple of the over the counter pills you can take to increase your attention span. Basically, if you aren’t prescribed Adderall, don’t take it. The side-effects, health risks and long term addiction possibilities are not worth the 10 hour study high you get when on the drug. If you can’t seem to focus, try your best at managing your time better, exercise, sip on water, or just take a quick nap. Although it may seem like it now, getting a B, C or a late grade is not worth your life.