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Students turn to Adderall as study aid

BY ASHLEY OERMAN | DECEMBER 15, 2009 7:30 AM

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The first time Stella took Adderall she cleaned her entire dorm room.

“I didn’t even know it was working until my roommate saw me being a clean freak, which never happens,” said the UI sophomore, who asked that her actual name be withheld.

The UI sophomore said she began taking the drug without a prescription during her first finals week freshman year.

Adderall is a stimulant used to treat hyperactivity disorders and narcolepsy, a problem which causes people to fall asleep uncontrollably.

However because of its energizing effect, the prescription drug is commonly used by students without a doctor’s consent as a “study drug.”

One year later, Stella said the meds are the only way she can stay focused and awake during the stressful week of tests.

An April study by the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, found that 6.4 percent of full-time college students used the drug without a presciption.

But Elly Burrows is not one of them.

The UI sophomore said she has never seriously considered using Adderall or its generic counterparts as a study-aid because she thinks it is an unfair advantage over other students.

“I don’t believe in using drugs to get better grades; it’s like steroids in sports,” she said.

Sam Cochran, director of UI counseling services, said dependency on Adderall can also be a disadvantage.

“If you use [the drug] as a crutch [and] it is taken away, you will have a problem,” he said.

Burrows said she is also concerned about possible negative side effects affiliated with the medication.

“I know someone who has been sick from it,” she said.

The drug, which is an amphetamine or an “upper,” is usually harmless for those with hyperactivity or narcolepsy.

However, for those who use the drug without these disorders, side effects can include heart attack or seizure.

Though these consequences are somewhat uncommon, a more serious threat could be buying or selling the drug in the first place.

Adderall is considered a controlled substance, so selling the drug — even with a prescription — can be punishable by state or federal law.

After learning that purchasing the “study aid” is a federal offense, Stella said she still did not worry about being caught.

“We’re not scared because we get it from our friends with prescriptions,” Stella said.

Stella said she spends $15 to $20 during finals week on the “study drug,” which costs about $5 per pill.

Cochran said if he was a student, he could understand the temptation of a drug which gives you seemingly endless energy, but warned against resorting to Adderall.

“I understand if you have a lot of things to get done and you’re running up against deadlines, but I’m not saying its the right thing to do,” he added.


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