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Adderall as a Study Aide: Is it Worth the Risk?

Spring quarter at UCI brings with it a fresh start, warmer weather, longer days, and the prospect of summer. But, as with all new quarters there also comes the onset of new responsibilities and obligations. There is more work to complete, tests to be taken, and books to be read. The stress is nothing new and neither is one increasingly common way of dealing with it: taking prescription drugs to enhance concentration and stamina while studying. For students who feel they need a way to stay awake and keep focused for longer than their bodies are naturally able to, Adderall has become the drug of choice.

Adderall is an analeptic, or a medication that stimulates the central nervous system. It is a specific combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine used to treat the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It differs from other analeptics such as Ritalin because of its availability in time-released capsules, allowing its effects to last for an extended amount of time. Adderall is relatively easy for students to obtain since it is readily prescribed to those with ADHD.
An article published in the New York Times mentions that students have gone to their campus health centers falsely claiming to have ADHD just to get a prescription of Adderall. Another common way that students obtain the drug is through “dealers,” or students who actually have ADHD and sell their medication to other students.

While taking Adderall increases concentration, energy level, and stamina, it also comes with a list of extreme side effects, especially for those who don’t need it. There are several dangerous consequences related to overusing Adderall, the most serious being death, heart attacks, strokes, and other heart related problems. Other side effects include but are not limited to: motor or verbal tics, seizures, blistering or peeling of skin, and mania.            

All students feel the immense pressure to maintain academic excellence throughout their four years in college. And for many, prescription drugs have become a crucial part of their lifestyle—but are the high risks of addiction and severe side effects truly worth a higher grade?

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