College life is full of pressure to succeed and a quick fix for unproductive studying like Adderall might seem like a good route. The health consequences, as you will read below, remind us that it is not okay to take stimulants unless they are prescribed to us. Our health is far more important!

What is Adderall Anyways?

The medication Adderall is a form of amphetamine used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, or depression- it most commonly used to counteract ADHD. It is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. In the short-term, Adderall increases the availability of neurotransmitters in the brain, like dopamine and norepinephrine. The former controls the brain’s reward system and the latter controls attention and emotions. Simply put, Adderall helps you focus and gives you energy. The effects of Adderall give it recognition as a drug with high potential for abuse, especially for students. The same is true of Ritalin and Vyvanse, other CNS stimulants. The difference between these stimulants is their ingredients- all have the same general effects.

Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse are all Schedule II drugs, just like oxycodone and fentanyl. The only difference between Schedule I drugs and Schedule II drugs are that Schedule II drugs at least have a valid medical application. Otherwise, they are just as addictive and carry the same serious medical concerns as Schedule I drugs like LSD and cocaine. Adderall is not as harmless as it may seem.

Adderall Side Effects

Adderall should only be used by individuals who are prescribed to take it. Adderall abuse as a ‘study drug’ is a serious matter. There are both short and long term consequences of abusing Adderall. Some of the immediate effects might be headaches, dryness of mouth, fatigue, feelings of depression or lethargy, irritability, difficulty concentrating or sleeping, restlessness, and appetite suppression. While Adderall boosts energy and concentration initially, it has the opposite effect as it wears off. Long term consequences include disrupted heart rhythm, increased blood pressure, weight loss, paranoia, and depression. Again, long term abuse of Adderall can create physical or psychological dependence on the drug. Adderall also has dehydrating properties. If mixed with alcohol, Adderall can be extremely dangerous because it masks the warning signs of alcohol poisoning.

A Healthier Way to Study

These stimulants are not even guaranteed to improve our grades or our attention to our studies. In fact, they could have quite the opposite impact. The best route is to evaluate your current study habits and tweak them to better serve you. Do you need quiet or buzzing space? Do you need lots of surface area or is a small desk enough? Can you listen to music with words or do you need white noise?

One way to improve productivity could be this study technique: try working for 25 minutes then breaking for 5 minutes. After three rounds, give yourself a ten minute break. Scheduling breaks enables you to stay on track for the designated time period because you know a break is coming shortly. Another option is finding a study buddy. Latch onto that hardworking friend of yours and ask them to save you a seat. Your friend can keep you accountable and focused.

By Charlotte Pillow
Peer Health Advocate
Class of 2019