Blame it on the Adderall

HWS students' use of ADHD medications.

Author’s note: ADHD medication use and distribution without a prescription or legal license is illegal. Therefore, the names of students have been removed and remain anonymous. 

HWS COLLEGES-You have a twenty page research paper due tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. You need fifteen sources and an annotated bibliography. It is already 10:00 p.m. So what do you do? What many HWS students during finals do, pop an Adderall. Problem solved.

The library remains open until 2:00 a.m during finals– lasting from Dec 16 through 19, and students are consuming large amounts of caffeine, sugar, snacks, or anything that will keep them awake. This creates an environment for temptation, temptation in  non-prescription ADHD medication  most popularly in the forms of: Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse.

Bottom line, students at HWS are busy, and students are stressed.

Students have a hunch that some of their fellow classmates may use some “addy” to get through finals, but how many constitutes as “some”?

Released in 2009, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) published their data on “Nonmedical Use of Adderall among Full-Time College Students”.

The studies show that, “Among full-time college students aged 18 to 22, nonmedical use of Adderall  in the past year was more likely among whites (8.6 percent).”

The studies also show that, “the greatest proportion of users at private and ‘elite’ universities” use the drugs.

HWS colleges’ tuition is now at $60,034 per year. The colleges are certainly private, and arguably considered “elite”.

Why students use it

Adderall is a serious drug used for attention deficit and hyperactivity

College students carry a perceived notion that Adderall is the solution for high grades.

When discussing the topic with a William Smith athlete, majoring in Bio Chem and minoring in French, she lists out her seven  finals of: papers, projects, exams, and a presentation, this semester. Perhaps she is the type of student to take the drug during finals?

“I have never used Adderall. The only thing I can tell you about it is that friends share it” the student clarified.

So students without legal prescriptions are taking the drug–an equally problematic issue as sharing or selling drugs on campus.

If you are not prescribed for the drug, dangerous side effects loom. “The intense arousal can lead to insomnia and anxiety, which in turn can descend into schizophrenia-like psychosis.” the CSR explains.

Sharing a friend’s prescription is dangerous, especially for a first-time user. Inexperienced college students using ADHD medication may also guzzle down coffee to increase stimulation. With caffeine intake, the effects are heightened, reaching dangerous levels, and users could easily overdose. This is especially dangerous for a first time user a with high prescription dosage.

According to the Columbia Science Review, “Adderall is a mix of two stereoisomers of amphetamine” and clarifies this term amphetamine as, “a stimulant related to the recreational drugs methamphetamine and MDMA, or ecstasy.”

Simply put, “Adderall floods the brain with amp-up, feel-good chemicals, leaving us feeling alert, euphoric, and ready for anything.”

The problem with HWS students, is that they do not take the drug seriously, as an illegal substance if non-prescribed.

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@HWSoverheard Twitter profile


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The Drug Enforcement Administration labels Adderall as a, “Schedule II substance.”

This means Adderall is categorized as, “substances, or chemicals with a high potential for abuse, less abuse potential than Schedule I drugs” such as Heroin, “with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.” The DEA concludes, “These drugs are also considered dangerous.”

Dependency can be psychological– such as believing the drug betters grades, and physical– when the body functions based on the reaction of chemicals from the drug; stopping drug use will result in withdrawal, according to Adderall Dependency.

“I know friends that take it to do their work, but they also like it because it helps them loose weight,” a WS 16′ student highlights another example of physical dependency.

Users on campus mainly use the drug for focused studying, but it effects are also popular for partying late on the weekends, or weight loss–as it decreases appetite.

Where students get the drug

Students are sharing the drug like they would gum from their pocket. But what many students do not know is that the use of this drug without a prescription is illegal.

Most of the HWS users do not have prescriptions. It appears getting the drug on campus is quite feasable.


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HWS Community Standards on illegal drug use: “Penalties for violating state laws can include substantial fines and imprisonment ranging from a few months to life. Violation of federal laws can also result in substantial fines and imprisonment as well as forfeiture of property and denial of federal benefits, including financial aid.”

“I think one has a prescription,” a William Smith student informs, “but a group of them tend to share it. I think people think its less harsh than using cocaine, I mean obviously.”

“Well to tell you the truth, I kind of witnessed a drug deal.”

“Yeah, these two girls were walking, and this was right outside the library. Not even in private. She pulled out the drugs and just gave her friend one. I think the one girl had a prescription. But yeah, she just shared it,” the student concludes.

“I have taken it once, from my friend, but I think I was focused on how I should be focused, instead of really focusing on my work,”a Hobart student explains. He finishes with,” Kind of a bummer, I probably won’t take it again.”

“One of my friends takes it,” one William Smith student states. “Her personality is usually super bubbly and outgoing, but when she takes the drug, she gets all quiet. She told me it depresses her, and she goes into this dark place.”

On average, how many people use Adderall on campus?

“Out of my friend group…65 %. Yeah and this covers NARPS (non-athletic-regular-people) and athletes”, a William Smith 15′ student confidently responded.

“She will also take any money for the pills. If someone offered her ten dollars, she would definitely take it,” the WS student adds.

After talking with a Hobart 15′ (International Relations major) student, he raises another prevalent issue.

“Well I used it for the first time sophomore year, from an older friend,” so age is a factor for the drug exposure.

“But then I started thinking that I really did have an attention problem, and so I went to my doctor’s office. I had to take these tests, but its crazy how easily I got prescribed the drug.”

The student then offered some advice:

“Yeah, well, if you really want some I bet you could just fake the tests. Just tell them you really can’t focus on anything, and kinda freak out. It’s easy.”

The University of Kentucky performed an experiment, where students researched ADHD symptoms via the Internet, then attempted to receive a prescription from licensed doctors. The results confirmed a prescription for the drug is simple, with a little online research, according to Detection of Feigned ADHD in College Students.

With increased focus, lower need for sleep, decreased appetite, availability through peers, and arguably, encouragement by medical prescribers, Addderall is appealing for collegiate students.

The 3D class’ “addy” goes for a ride.

It appears that an environment has been created at HWS Colleges, where the use of non-prescribed ADHD medication is not taken seriously socially, academically, or medically.

On Dec. 7, 2012, Art and Architecture professor, Professor Aub’s 3D D3sig class’ Adderall pill, was shown to the campus.

It was located between the Library and Scandling Center for, “its association with both academic and social purposes,” a student from the course explained.

“As a school that prides itself upon academic integrity, we should finally begin to recognize this problem and move forward.” The student continued, “It is not our intention to offend anyone at the Colleges; we simply wish to highlight the topic of Adderall abuse in a creative way, and acknowledge this serious and growing issue on campus.”

At HWS colleges, students are constantly in the presence of their peers. Paired with daily academic stressors, it appears that the HWS students’ use of ADHD medications are more strongly psychological, rather than physical at this time in their lives.

The dependence of non-prescription drugs are dangerous for HWS’s twenty-something year olds. For now, HWS has not created a method to test and check for the drugs, but this non-prescribed use is spreading rampant on campus.

Studies Writing & Rhetoric and Media & Society at Hobart and William Smith Colleges 15', William Smith Rowing, from Clifton Park N.Y; Section editor.