by Lexi Matthews ‘18
With the pressure of APs, sports, and extracurricular activities often leaving students overwhelmed, many seek aids to this juggling act, and turn to what they see as a quick fix to make studying easier. A 2015 CDC survey discovered that 7.5 percent of high school seniors have found their alleged solution in pill form: Adderall.
An amphetamine intended to treat ADHD, Adderall relaxes the overactive minds of those with hyperactivity but has the opposite effect on everyone else. While using amphetamines without a prescription has been criminalized since 1970, abuse has remained rampant and even surging throughout the 2000s. It’s not uncommon for high school students with ADHD to sell their own doses for cash.
An anonymous senior, ‘John,’ recalls his friend first offering him a pill last March, which he pocketed without much thought. Weeks later, John took it to help write an overdue essay. “I remember my fingers flying across the keyboard like crazy suddenly, after just staring at a blank screen for hours before. All these thoughts in my head suddenly clicked,” said John. The next morning, he woke up with a finished paper, but also a sharp headache. “It felt like a hangover. But it did the job well; I didn’t really think twice before doing it again.”
John, who also smokes marijuana, warns others to take caution before they get too deep into Adderall. He explains that while cannabis takes a lot of heat for ‘ruining teens’ lives,’ it’s prescription pills that people more often get addicted to before realizing their life-threatening dependency.
Despite the many dangers, the pressure of doing well in school can lead to risky decisions. Junior ‘Tom,’ who had never drank or done drugs before in his life, admits his desperation for a five on an AP exam drove him to Adderall last May. After purchasing pills from a classmate, he took it the day before his exam.
“I felt nothing for the first hour, then I got all jittery, like a sugar rush,” said Tom. While the drug provided his desired energy boost, it wasn’t the perfect fix he had imagined. “All these connections in the content I never saw before hit me, but the jitteriness wouldn’t let me focus on anything long enough to learn.”
Despite Adderall’s many flaws, including heart and brain damage from merely months of use, it’s quite unlikely that students will be abandoning it anytime soon. John still takes Adderall semi-regularly in attempts to ‘combat senioritis,’ and Tom largely accredits his score of a four on the exam to the pill. As long as stress exists in the student body,