Max: There is a current epidemic spreading throughout the nation’s high schools and colleges. Students are turning to ‘study drugs’ such as Vyvanse and Adderall to stay up for entire days at a time just to accomplish school work they need to get done. Prescription ADHD medications like Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse are becoming increasingly popular for overworked college students attempting to keep their GPA up. These drugs are intended for children and adults who have ADD, attention deficit disorder, or ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, to help the patients be more focused and attentive. But students are scheduling doctor’s appointments complaining about their lack of focus just to get their hands on the blue, yellow, or pink pills.
Being a college student myself, I am constantly surrounded by students who either take some ‘study drug’ or are looking to score some sort of cognitive enhancement. There is a massive problem with students taking this drugs, prescribed or not, because it creates an academic environment where work being turned in is not a genuine attempt by the student. This poses the question of academic dishonesty, and Amanda Marscarelli from societyforscience.org says Abusing ADHD drugs is cheating too. Its no difference than athletes using performance enhancing drugs to increase their athletic ability. This is a very valid point considering the advantage student’s who take these sorts of drugs have over student’s who do not. Which you cannot deny when students are praising these drugs for their effects.
And more and more students are turning to this method of artificial motivation to either get ahead or just keep up with their workload. Colleges are concerned which can be seen through a number of different college newspaper articles that have been published by: Cornell, Pittsburg, just to name a few and there are many more, discussing the increased use of Adderall and Vyvanse on college campuses.
Kerry Close, from Cornell University, writes about a student who used Adderall as a study tool when it came time for midterms before spring break. She quotes the student as saying, “When I was on [Adderall], I felt a lot of energy and … I was really able to focus,” and “All the information I was processing made a lot of sense, much more sense.” When you read quotes like this, it makes more sense why students are taking these drugs.
The increase in competition throughout the global job market causes for students to find any means of gaining an advantage. This includes even resorting to illegal drug transactions just to gain the ability to pull an all nighter and get an A on a difficult test. Considering finding a job after college is becoming more and more difficult, it’s no wonder why students are resorting to drugs to give them an advantage.
Local news stations have been reporting this story and CNN has even turned it into national news. In this CNN video, Jerrad Gabay a college senior is asked to discuss why he takes Adderall. (insert video from CNN). When asked what sort of difference he sees in himself after taking adderall, he says, “Im more driven”, “I kind of dont focus on anything else [but the work being done].” After hearing a testimony from a student who isn’t prescribed, and claims his grades are much better after taking a form of ‘speed’, any like minded student would run to find the first one of their friends that has a prescription.
Carly: The abundance of these mentally stimulating drugs on college and high school campuses is astonishing. If a student isn’t able to be prescribed the medication, which is rare, it’s likely that someone they associate with is willing to sell them the precious ‘study drugs.’ CBS Today discusses how simple it is for students to fake ADHD or find a dealer on social media, such as Twitter or Instagram. The rates these pills are sold by are actually extremely cheap, considering a single thirty-pill prescription of 70 mg Vyvanse is $260 without insurance. Pills are typically sold at a dollar per 10 mg. Not only are dealers not making a profit with this system, they’re actually losing money. Because patients are often misdiagnosed with ADHD, students not using the medication to enhance studying are willing to sell their peers. ‘Study drug’ dealers probably don’t realize or care that they’re insurance provider is actually losing money, because often these people are poor college students and money is money.
What makes these performance-enhancing drugs such a concern is not what the students are using them for, but the side effects. Especially when mixed with other drugs, ADHD medication can be harmful. Students that are not prescribed to the drugs are often taking too high of a dosage too often. This abuse leads to extreme irritability, high blood pressure, insomnia, sweating, dry mouth, shaking, irregular breathing and several more dangerous side effects. Students often consume caffeine when taking the medication, which will worsen the effects they experience. It’s not uncommon for students to combine more drugs with the ADHD medications, especially marijuana. Students claim that smoking after speeding will bring them back ‘down’ and take away some of the negative results of ‘study drugs.’ These pills are amphetamine based and can be habit forming, if abused. Users even refer to the drugs as ‘legal meth.’
Students should be hesitant when interacting with these drugs is schools often have policies against them. Specifically, Ball State prohibits the abuse and distribution of any prescription drugs, adhering with the state and federal laws. There isn’t much point to taking drugs to get better grades if it results in suspension or expulsion. There is a widespread discussion of what to do to solve the problem of ‘study drugs,’ but no plausible solution. Schools drug testing their entire student population would be completely unrealistic.
Secondly, if that were to happen, there would be hardly anyone left to attend the school. The drugs can’t be banned entirely, because there is a portion of the population who legitimately needs them for medical treatment. Ultimately, doctors need to be more precautious when prescribing these medications. Not everyone with ADHD needs to be treated with stimulants. Similarly, not every patient with behavior and attention problems necessarily has ADHD.
Taylor: These “study drugs” undoubtedly have a direct correlation to other drugs such as cocaine, in the sense that they give one that “speeding” sensation that hence gives people the focus they need. We must remember though, that there really isn’t a drug that acts exactly like Adderall or Vyvanse, since these drugs redirect neurotransmitters using amphetamine salts. Therefore, we must classify this drug in a different category than more natural speeders, since these drugs are made 100% artificially. Greg Laden commented on the blog and stated how one of his students had to smoke a lot of pot to be able to produce a good PhD thesis. From what I have experienced, many people state that when they smoke pot, they become much less productive. This proves Laden’s point that the use of “study drugs” is more subjective than we think and that the use of these drugs aren’t enhancement since people react differently to drugs. Alan D. DeSantis of the University of Kentucky, conducted research that states: the longer students stay in college, the more they use study drugs. This blog explains how the Britain Academy of Medical Sciences associates study drugs with other drugs such as steroids and it is parallel with cheating in sports. Wesleyan University actually amended their student code of conduct to highlight the “misuse” of prescription drugs and classifying it as “improper assistance” in academia. This is where the line needs to be drawn, to state that using these drugs is not cheating and that some people actually need this drug to function. If anything, colleges should offer these drugs on campus if it makes students perform better, especially since wealthy students can afford it and less wealthy students cannot, giving the wealthier an unfair advantage. Our society is based on making everything equal for everyone, so why not provide these drugs for students? Though I believe this drug should be available to everyone since we have agreed it gives sort of an unfair advantage, I still believe there should much more research done to completely understand this drug and its side effects. Nick Bostrom’s response to a blog from a report of the Academy of Medical Sciences explains how the report lacks to acknowledge the fact that we need research for better, more reliable cognitive enhancers. The concept of disease, according to Bostrom’s response, has more of a pull of research than the research on effective cognitive enhancers. Research needs to be more focused upon “study drugs” because the side effects can be quite traumatic to ones health. Reports of very unhealthy eating habits, or no eating at all, have created some concern for the drug but not enough to kick start major research. Is it going to take mass amounts of over dosage to light the fire under the asses of those in the Academy of Medical Sciences?
Taylor: In our society, where everything is backwards, the use of Adderall and Vyvanse is and always will be accepted even though these drugs are basically lab-made cocaine. The argument though really isn’t about what effects the drugs have on young children’s bodies, but revolved on if this type of drug use is considered cheating or not. This is extremely disturbing because society puts the nobility of fair game before the safety of our children. Either we teach our children the aspects of sportsmanship or we raise them believing that our health is really what matters.
Anders Sandberg’s response explains this idea that society need to distinguish the principles of basic health and drug use and the separate principles of sportsman ship. The reason why Sandberg brings this up is the fact that authorities are more likely to punish the users of this drug as cheating in school, rather than punishing the drug dispensers for selling children artificial cocaine. Sandberg states the fight on “educational doping” divides us into two kinds of people; those who believe education is a competition for higher grades and those who believe education is based on acquiring knowledge, not how well one does on tests. Education should not be a huge race to see who can get the higher grades; it should be based solely on absorbing the material and applying it to every day life. If these dugs can allow students who don’t have the same learning and memory abilities as their peers, there is no cheating when taking this drug, just broadening the horizons for every student.
Max: I have to agree and disagree with Taylor. I agree with the fact that our society puts more emphasis on a persons success, in any area, than it does their personal health. This promotes the idea that students should be more focused on doing whatever it takes to be successful than being concerned about their path to success. This goes hand in hand with potentially serious side effects that these drugs pose on the students. Students do not take into consideration that they face increased heart rate, anxiety and paranoia, and many more side effects when taking these drugs.. And these side effects are the cause of non-ADD students being overstimulated, mentally. The sort of amphetamine like high that these psychostimulants cause, is not that far off from the high actual street drugs cause, which Taylor and Carly have both talked about. So in a sense, these students are turning into prescription cocaine addicts, and do not realize that these drugs can could potentially have the same side effects as long term amphetamine use. Although people don’t believe these drugs are harmful, because they need a prescription to get, they are.
Where I disagree with Taylor is that we, as a society, should just accept and realize these drugs are going to be a part of our culture whether we like it or not. With more rigorous screening for disorders such as ADD and ADHD, prescription writing for psychostimulants such as Adderall and Vyvanse could definitely be limited, which would take some of the supply of these drugs off the streets. Also, I find the statement about how authorities are more likely to be concerned with academic dishonesty than the selling of prescription drugs when looking to make an arrest in relation to ‘study drug’ abuse and selling.
On the website justanswer.com, a website where criminal lawyers answer questions by anonymous individuals seeking quick legal advice, I found a post that caught my eye. A person who had been arrested for having nine Adderall without a prescription, was charged with a level 4 felony asked about what he should do. Personally, I find this to be a perfect example of how law enforcement is seeking out maximum penalties for prescription drug offenses. Personally, I find this to be discouraging to individuals looking to sell such drugs as Vyvanse and Adderall, which ultimately reduces the supply of these drugs sold illegally. That being said, a reduced supply of these drugs on the street means more students will be forced to do use their own abilities to complete their work. Personally, I find the use of psychostimulants to be useful for those who have serious cases of ADD and ADHD to be necessary. I also find the use of these drugs for those who dont have a disorder to be a form of cheating. Students finding these drugs on the streets are looking to get a focused high where they are motivated to get work done, that they wouldnt normally be motivated to do. To me, taking a supplement to do something you wouldn’t normally do, or be able to do, is cheating and more emphasis on how the use of these drugs by undiagnosed drug takers needs to be hindered.