Before the sweet release of summer break comes the stressful time of semester finals. College students all across the nation are headed into the final weeks of the school year and that means comprehensive exams, major projects and presentations and lots of pressure to perform. Kids looking for something to help them finish strong may not rely on regular sleep, a healthy diet and a disciplined study plan but instead may turn to prescription stimulants like Adderall. Anecdotal evidence and research seem to agree that as finals approach, illicit Adderall use goes up.
Why Is Adderall Being Abused?
The drug Adderall is a stimulant commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD) that comes in a prescription. As a stimulant, the drug helps a person stay awake and alert. It also sharpens a person’s ability to focus. That combination of more energy and focus with less need for sleep has led Adderall to earn the nickname “study drug”. College kids without an ADHD or ADD diagnosis take the drug to help them extend and enhance their study time and improve their performance on finals.
One medical report said that 34 percent of university students confessed to having used Adderall to help them get work done or do better on a test. Some of those students are tweeting about it. A BYU study decided to follow tweets about Adderall to see what they could learn.
The researchers monitored Adderall tweets from November 11th, 2011 to May 12th 2012. After sifting out tweets that were obviously intended for sales or promotion purposes, the team found that the drug was most often mentioned by students in the Northeast and Southern areas of the country. Mention of the drug also spiked right around the time of finals. It was further noted that the drug was the subject of tweets more often mid-week than during the weekend, suggesting that it was being used as a study aid rather than a partying ingredient.
The non-prescribed use of Adderall is illegal and it is dangerous. The drug has a high risk for addiction. Not only that, but these drugs are meant to help brains which are not firing optimally, they are not intended to boost a properly firing mind. In one case, a student took Adderall to help prepare for an exam but was unable to shift his focus from fixating on his calculator. In his situation, the drug was not much use in terms of enhancing his study time.
Students with ADD or ADHD feel grateful for the medication which enables them to attend college. For them, Adderall is a normalizer. On the other hand, it also can make them the target of drug-seekers. While most students seem to want the drug in order to help with school work, some do foolishly mix the stimulant with other substances like alcohol and recreational drugs. A serious concern is that as more students engage in social talk (tweets) about Adderall use, its popularity as a study drug and a party drug will only continue to rise.