Adderall: The Study Drug
SIMONE VIRZI — News Writer
Wellness professor Betty Jung once had a student email her, requesting to make up the final exam she missed; the student lacked recollection of being in the classroom and taking the exam. After discussing the situation with others, Jung concluded the student used a stimulant, Adderall, a drug used to treat ADHD.
After the incident, for the last four semesters, Jung has taken a poll in her classes to see if her students know someone who has used Adderall: Every semester at least half of the class raises their hands.
“It’s not a very scientific study,” Jung, a nurse, said, but “if you don’t ask, you don’t know.”
According to Dr. Diane Morgenthaler, director of the Health and Wellness Center, Adderall usage on Southern’s campus is a problem.
“The Health Center helps students who are potentially misusing medications, including Adderall,” she said. “I believe it is an issue at Southern, although it may be more of an issue than we are aware of since we are usually not the ones prescribing the medication.”
After looking at research, Jung said students in college are more likely than non-college students who are the same age, adding Adderall is “one of the more commonly used drugs” amongst college students.
The drug “supposedly helps [students] focus,” but does not make the individual smarter, she said.
Sophomore Sarah Hilliard, who transferred from University of Rhode Island, said Adderall is a significant issue at her former school.
“[The university] would host meetings to make people aware,” she said, adding she has not yet read or seen any information about the drug so far at Southern.
“I have not had any students looking for help with this specific problem,” said Morgenthaler, “but the more we can publicize the fact that there are people on campus that can help, the more likely those numbers will change.”
Hilliard said she has not tried Adderall, but she knows several people who have misused the prescription. She knows someone who has taken it because the drug is supposed to help reduce the user’s appetite. According to WebMD’s website, “loss of appetite” and “weight loss” are two potential side effects from using Adderall.
The drug may not always be effective and benefit a student. Hilliard said she had a roommate who took Adderall before taking a physiology exam but still failed. She said this shows Adderall may be more beneficial for “study habits,” and the drug “doesn’t always help.”
According to WebMD’s website, another side effect is Adderall can cause the user to have difficulty sleeping, which is a factor in Hilliard’s decision to not use the drug.
“I like to sleep and I’d be afraid to not sleep,” she said.
Many Southern students also have jobs, and “some are working two to three jobs,” said Jung. Therefore, they are likely to be stressed out and not get enough sleep. If students got the recommended amount of sleep, which is about seven hours a night, they would not have as much difficulty focusing.
“Everyone can focus if they’re alert,” Jung said.
According to WebMD’s website, Adderall “should not be used to treat tiredness or to hold off sleep in people who do not have a sleep disorder.”
When Hilliard needs to study or write an essay, she said she prefers to use a more basic approach to help her concentrate.
“I just need some snacks, then I can focus [on school work],” she said.
Jung said one of the issues with Adderall is students may see it as a quick fix to their issue—many people today look to pills for everything. However, using the drug “automatically becomes a habit.”
According to Morgenthaler, students can find additional resources about Adderall at the Drug and Alcohol Resource Center [DARC] and Counseling Services.