In a world riddled with deadlines and seemingly impossible study loads, the average college student is faced with constant feelings of uncertainty. Can I really get through midterms without feeling like a failure? In this same world, there are so many expectations students put on themselves to not only pass, but to excel, to essentially beat out all other competition. How does a young adult do this when they feel as though they are so easily distracted?
Adderall has become an increasingly popular new trend on college campuses. Though this is a medication usually prescribed to individuals diagnosed with ADHD, there is an almost normalized trade of this drug in college. A study published in the Journal of Brain and Behavior found that misuse of prescription stimulants was the second largest form of drug use for individuals in college, second only to marijuana. This can be extremely problematic due to the addictive nature of Adderall, which causes major shifts in the dopamine levels of a user’s brain, leading to an exceeded tolerance for the drug over time.
Since Adderall is marketed to increase productivity, it adds yet another complication to the experience of the addiction. The experience of the high lasts long enough for the user to feel more productive, yet coming down from the high makes the user feel even more incompetent than before they took it. Thus, the user begins to think that they are not going to be able to perform without it, which contributes to the addictive attributes of non-prescription Adderall usage.
First, we must demand a shift of attention to the problem of misused prescription medication. We must advocate for adding strict guidelines for repercussions to using Adderall without a prescription while being enrolled at USC. However, repercussions should not come in the form of punishments like expulsion or loss of financial aid eligibility. Rather, it should be in the form of seeing a series of professionals in the healthcare system that are willing to help individuals suffering from addiction to Adderall by offering them a program that brings them to sobriety.
We must address the fact that misuse is not an issue of labeling, stigmatizing and criminalizing the students that abuse the drug. We are all capable of thriving without having to fall into the dangers of prescription abuse. We are better, and we deserve better.
MSW Candidate, 2018
USC Suzanne Dwoark-Peck School of Social Work