All About Adderall: What You Should Know About the Magic Pill

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Instead of working on that ten-page paper due in a few days, or studying for the three midterms coming up next week, you decided to watch a whole season of Community on Netflix, take multiple naps and download the new J.Cole album. Suddenly, it is the night before and you haven’t even looked at the topic of your paper. The thought of all the work you have to do in the next twelve hours makes you contemplate jumping off a bridge--so what do you do?

Many students are turning to Adderall to help them complete massive amounts of schoolwork in one sitting. Adderall is a prescription drug that is commonly used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. It affects the brain by increasing the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine. However, college students have been using it to help them study for long periods of time or to  complete large amounts of homework as it is known to increase productivity and attention span, and decrease distractibility. In a survey conducted of UNC students about Adderall usage, 37.5% of students said they had taken Adderall to make their studying more productive.

A student at UNC who asked to remain anonymous said she used Adderall to cram for an exam. “I felt like I couldn’t stop studying, and taking notes was fun. It was like a magic pill!”  At a highly competitive university like UNC, this drug may seem like an attractive option to students who tend to procrastinate, or want to get an academic edge. However, before you casually pop an Addy to survive that all-nighter, make sure you know the risks you are taking.

The Side Effects
According to the National Library of Medicine, some of the more serious ones include high blood pressure, pounding heartbeats, fainting, light-headedness, chest pains, seizures and even psychotic episodes. It also leads to disrupted sleeping patterns, depression, vomiting and diarrhea. Of the students I surveyed that reported taking Adderall, 12.5% reported headaches, 31.3% reported trouble sleeping and 6.3% reported experiencing mood swings. It also suppresses appetite, which is why many girls have started to use it as a weight loss tool. This in particular, is very dangerous as it could lead to eating disorders and other severe health problems.

Some drugs require a prescription for a reason. Drugs such as Adderall need to be monitored by doctors to make sure the patient is taking the correct dosage. When a person without a prescription takes Adderall and guesses at how much they should take, they run the risk of sending their bodies into shock, heart attacks and sudden death. It could also interact with other medications you are taking and cause dangerous complications.

The Risk of Addiction
As if the side effects weren’t enough to scare the crap out of you, the risk of addiction to Adderall is extremely high. This is because it contains amphetamines, a very addictive substance that has a high risk for abuse. If you start to use Adderall to help with studying, you may end up feeling that you can’t get any work done without it. In the television show Community, a character named Annie Edison (“Little Annie Adderall”) took Adderall in high school because she was a perfectionist obsessed with getting good grades. She ended up dropping out of school to go to rehab because of her addiction, which is why she ended up at a community college. Although Annie isn’t a real person, her character demonstrates the dangerous implications of addictive substances.

Another consequence you should consider before taking drugs that aren’t prescribed to you is what would happen if you got caught. Taking drugs without a prescription is illegal, and Adderall is very controversial because it could be considered cheating. You could risk suspension or even expulsion for getting caught with this drug.

But for patients who are prescribed Adderall, it can be a lifesaver. Sophomore Tyler Tew says he was put on Adderall for his ADHD. "I was a mess before I was on Adderall. It truly is a drug that helps people. It's not just a 'college drug.' There are people out there that really need it." When used correctly and safely, Adderall can be life-changing.

So what do you do about that ten-page paper? It is up to you whether or not you want to take your chances with Adderall. But next time, consider working on the paper ahead of time--it’s better than risking your life.  

Adderall Guy (photo): Profile.ak,
Headache Girl (photo): Ehow,
Adderall Pill (photo): Healthlifeandstuff,

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