The “get it done” drug

Emelia Hitchner

Adderall is prescribed for the treatment of ADHD, but many students without ADHD use it as a study aid. Photo courtesy of Wikicommons.
Adderall is prescribed for the treatment of ADHD, but many students without ADHD use it as a study aid.
Photo courtesy of Wikicommons.

Adderall is no longer just a drug to treat ADHD — now it’s treating college.

Adderall is prescribed to people diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder to increase concentration and decrease hyperactivity.

In recent years it has become a prescription stimulant popular among college students hoping to pack a semester’s worth of studying into one week. Some University of North Florida students say it’s a wonder drug that’s easy to come by.

*Cassie Williams, a UNF advertising junior, said, “One of my friends has a prescription and she said if I needed some, she has it. I know plenty of kids who are on it, it’s like part of their diet. If I wanted it, I could call my friend and just give her five bucks or something.”

According to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration national survey, approximately 6 percent of college students between the ages of 18 and 22 admitted to using Adderall without prescription. Almost 90 percent of those who use Adderall non-medically also reported binge-drinking and heavy alcohol intake.

*Jason Owen, a UNF child psychology junior, said he bought a 10 milligram pill for weekend fun. Over the course of a night, Owen mixed Adderall with marijuana and alcohol for a stimulating rush.

Police records from the past year show two incidents involving students caught on campus for having Adderall without a prescription, according to Sergeant Dwayne Howard of the University Police Department.

Howard said although some students use the drug to help them concentrate, other students use it before partying. He said possession of the drug is a felony and can result in an arrest.

Owen said most dealers are students attending UNF or other colleges in Jacksonville.

Prices vary based on the pills’ dosage, which is measured in milligrams. Pills usually range from 5 to 10 milligrams, and the cost ranges from $5 to $10 per pill.

*Josh Brown, a UNF public relations sophomore, is also familiar with Adderall’s ease of access.

“The night before our final exams last semester, a dealer came in and sold Adderall to students. Kids were popping Adderall. Someone texted him and asked if they could get it. They were taking it to stay up all night and study,” Brown said.

Jonathan Rech, a UNF alum, said he had Adderall because of a prescription from his family doctor.
Rech said, “I was approached multiple times on campus at UNF and asked for Adderall. People are very open about Adderall in general. I would say that 95 percent of students use it or have used it.”

He said he gave Adderall to his close friends, but he never sold the drug or gave it to other students.

Pharmacist Bruce Cornrich said Adderall prescriptions were most popular around college towns. He also said prescriptions increased before midterms or finals.

“It’s classified as a controlled two drug, which means it’s addictive when abused. It can cause seizures. It increases heart rate and blood pressure and can cause hallucinations. It’s super dangerous. Not only are students taking it, but I think they’re taking the wrong dose. They think more is better, which isn’t the case. It can definitely cause heart attacks, comas and death,” Cornrich said.

He said students should be aware of the long-term effects Adderall can have on the body, such as chemical changes to the brain. The mood-altering stimulants in the drug can cause the body to stop the production of natural chemicals, which can lead to depression, suicidal thoughts and psychological problems.

Students like Williams aren’t worried about the side effects. Williams said she hasn’t dealt with anything severe and that Adderall is a miracle worker when finals roll around.

“I’ll take it before I study, and all I focus on is my book. I won’t look at my phone, nothing but the book,” Williams said after pulling an all-nighter.

Although professors advise students to spend three hours of study time for every hour of class time, full schedules and exhaustion may tempt students to seek an easier solution.

“Students are faced with a question. Study beforehand and be prepared, or take Adderall,” Rech said. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing if you have something very important to do and you need to stay up for it. The problem is that students are relying on it and their reliance is what will get them in trouble because they are trying to get it again and again.”

Cornrich said one week of Adderall use can cause severe withdrawal symptoms.

Cornrich said, “It’s a scary drug. It’s sad that kids are abusing it. But these aren’t bad kids. They’re not criminals. They’re college kids trying to advance their careers. Awareness is the problem.”

With no official test for ADHD, getting the prescription is nearly as easy as knowing someone who has one.

“ADD is basically diagnosed through symptoms. It’s easy for someone to go to the doctor knowing the symptoms of ADD and just ask the doctor for it. There’s no blood test that will determine ADD, so you can definitely lie to a doctor. It’s not that hard to get the drug,” Cornrich said.

Michael Malec, interim director of the UNF Counseling Center, said UNF doesn’t prescribe stimulant drugs to students.

Since Adderall is commonly abused on college campuses, UNF chooses to direct students seeking the drug to a psychiatrist in the area. Most students who have encountered the drug said it’s simple enough to ask their hometown doctor for it.

“I really think half of this campus does it,” said Williams. “You have to understand, a lot of these peoples’ lives are crazy. Working, going to school, it’s not easy. The thing is, people know plenty about other prescription drugs, and not enough about Adderall. I feel like doctors need to give more information about it before it’s prescribed.”

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.