A friend’s younger brother emailed her just yesterday, asking if she knew where he could score some “study aids” (aka Ritalin or Adderall)… not because he didn’t know where to get them himself, but because impending finals meant that his usual sources were all tapped out. This story isn’t anything new, of course; over-caffeinated college students eager for the next level of conccentration-enablers have repurposed ADHD medication since the drugs were synthesized a couple of decades ago. In fact, the use of study drugs has become so widespread in recent years that the government is worried enough to step in. In its latest strategy report, the White House Office of Drug Control vows to introduce new policies specifically targeted to college students and their study drugs.
(And the Adderall craze is hardly limited to college campuses. A friend’s mother recalled discovering Ritalin that an ADHD friend had loaned to her daughter to help her concentrate on the SAT — and this was seven years ago in Baltimore. As high-pressure schools become even more competitive, odds are good that even more pre-college kids are turning to prescription study aids these days.)
How exactly the crackdown will happen remains to be seen, and some college administrators are skeptical: “People on Adderall don’t pee in the hallways,” an assistant dean at Vanderbilt told the Washington Post. “Everyone’s aware of [study drug abuse], but I think we’re all focused on the more prevalent one — alcohol.” Other schools take things a bit more seriously; at Duke, illegally using prescription stimulants counts academic dishonesty. In other words, cheating. Then there are those who consider these drugs “neuroenhancers,” and think you’d be crazy to not take them.
So, what’s your take on Adderall? Academic steroids, or the next step in making our brains better?