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Adderall and College Students: Stimulant Abuse on Campus

why college students abuse adderall

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Statistics have revealed not all drug abuse amongst college students involve illicit substances. Adderall, Vyvanse, and Ritalin, all prescription medication well known for treating the condition: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are drugs categorised under Amphetamines. However such pharmaceuticals have almost become de rigueur at colleges as study aids (although Vyvanse use for studying is less evident). While the use of Adderall and Focalin drug is prescribed specifically to treat patients struggling with symptoms of ADHD and narcolepsy, the results, and effectiveness of Focalin vs Adderall are almost similar.
The Bloomberg School of Public Health 2016 research which carried out a survey on how many college students take Adderall for studying purposes, revealed that 60% of users are aged 18-25-years old which accounts for 10.7% in 2013. Non-college students accounted for 6.8%, according to 2013 Monitoring the Future survey. Healthy college students take the drug to enhance their work productivity, prolong their ability to study and to achieve better standards in their school work.

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Table of Contents

Why College Students Abuse Adderall?

Adderall use in college students has become popular as many students experience excellence and happiness as the inhibitory capacities of the brain is strengthened to regulate power efficiently. With this comes sleeplessness for countless hours or sometimes even days when overdosed.

Stimulating both mind and body

The drug provides an energy boost both physically and mentally and therefore can enhance performance. As it adds to physical strength students use it as a tactic to excel in sports,  and impress sports coaches who might be able to recruit them into professional teams. Also, among men within the US, success in a given sport is a way to obtain a scholarship to cover educational costs.

Using Adderall to study

Does Adderall help study? A dose of Adderall pill sharpenscollege students sitiing at books unable to focus and concentrate mind acuity, improves focus and provides an energy boost for more alert and productive study. This stimulant has been found to intensify similar symptoms of those who suffer with Obsessive Compulsive Behavior which in the context of college and studying. can produce immaculate organizational skills that are hard to believe.
When exams approach students often begin to panic and look for the easiest and quickest way to capture and absorb all the necessary information needed to pass their final exams without feeling fatigued. Therefore the stimulant has become something of an emergency rescue option creating the phenomena of Adderall abuse on college campuses.

To get high

As Adderall alters the brain chemistry, the act of studying is taken to the next level, as students are not only able to concentrate for longer periods of time, but their extra sense of alertness increases their motivation which is due to increased levels of  dopamine. This can simultaneously make them feel high while achieving better grades.  During college years success and achievement play a big role, and so the allure of Adderall’s so-called quick fix and positive effects: achieving better grades, feeling more confident, experiencing a better social life and heightened sense of happiness has resulted in college students ignoring the adverse side-effects.

How to Spot Adderall Addict in College?

Listed below are some of the signs for spotting a drug addict in college:

  • Excessive drinking and use of other drugs
  • A lower perception of the harm that a non-prescribed use of medical stimulant might cause
  • A short time span of attention with difficulty concentrating for longer hours
  • Psychiatric distress or depression
  • Skipping classes
  • A decrease in the overall GPA.
  • Adderall can be smoked, so the unusual scent or the burnt fingers might be a red flag.

Where Do Students Get Adderall?

With the relative ease to acquire Adderall on University campuses through the college clinic this has facilitated Adderall abuse in college.  Since there is no clinical test for ADHD, many college students fake the symptoms of ADHD after carrying out quick research on how to get Adderall prescribed then make an appointment with the college clinic. This results in the prescription for the drug along with hopes to increase academic performance. Meanwhile, the other most ‘reliable’ source for obtaining non-prescribed Adderall for studying is friends and family, of which two thirds of those have obtained with a prescription.

Unfortunately, a homemade Adderall recipe is easily accessible on the Internet and does not require any laboratory equipment, which adds another futile ground for Adderall abuse in college students.

It is important not to try to make Adderall or any other drugs at home. Such attempts entail various risks, including health hazards, as well as legal liabilities.

What are the Side Effects of Adderall Use in Studying?

Adderall abuse in college is rapidly increasing simultaneously with college students mistaken delusion that taking drugs like Adderall to study is harmless. The alternatives of Adderall like Vyvanse differ in effectiveness; therefore students find this stimulant a quick fix. Adderall high effects are ignored, including the short-term effects of Adderall studying:

  • disrupted rhythm of the heart
  • elevated blood pressure
  • irritability,
  • weight loss,
  • headaches
  • insomnia

The long-term effects of this drug mimic those of a regular cocaine user, which include anxiety, depression, stroke, and cardiovascular problems.

How to Take Adderall To Study?

When it comes to college students and Adderall, there are a few things that should be kept in mind. The efficiency of this stimulant is NOT enhanced when mixed with alcohol. Instead, it can cause alcohol poisoning. The drug is obviously suggested only when prescribed by a medical practitioner and works best when consumed in a prescribed way. For best results, take this drug on an empty stomach and do not take this stimulant needlessly. Large amounts of Vitamin C reduce the overall effects of the drug. Avoid mixing other drugs with Adderall.
College students who use this drug should bear in mind a few important things:

  • Adderall should never be used in combination with Alcohol. This can cause alcohol poisoning.
  • Avoid snorting this stimulant. Consume the pill as prescribed and only take the prescribed dosage to avoid overdose.
  • Prolonged use of this stimulant results in declining academic performance over time when the body becomes tolerant to the drug.
  • Feeling mentally tired and foggy when trying to quit or decrease the dose. The party life as a result of increased euphoria gradually becomes annoying and irritable.
  • Sharing pills at college, stealing or borrowing from family or friends or even faking symptoms to get access to the wrong dose of this stimulant or any other drug constitutes under prescription fraud which is a felony.

Always keep in mind how to get Adderall out of one’s system.
Adderall abuse can literally impair life!
female college student alert and nervous reading a book and making notes
The abuse of this ‘study pill’ might seem to initially increase efficiency and alertness but in reality is definitely not increasing academic excellence. Alertness is the ‘real’ and ‘literal’ effect of this drug and therefore consuming it without prescription is like lending a friend spectacles who has a clear vision but ultimately in the end will blur their vision.
Therefore the prolonged non-medical use of this drug will increases restlessness and aggression. Relationships may begin to fail as unstable behavior becomes inevitable, which can trigger depression and anxiety. For those who do not suffer with ADHD, non-medical use of this drug have far worse side effects. Good grades are definitely not worth risking your health for. Insomnia will increase and a possible thyroid disorder may manifest which will add to the deterioration of emotional and physical health. Working memory reduces, and negative shifts in personality take hold which can lead a person to lose control on their life and themselves.

Getting Help With Amphetamine Abuse in College

Withdrawal from addiction is always a conscious choice albeit Treating drug addiction requires a complex set of procedures. Here are some steps towards gaining the correct treatment:

  1. Acceptance of the issue and the determination and motivation to escape drug addiction. Although it can be quite challenging to cope with Adderall withdrawals, it is a vital step to full recovery.
  2. Detox – detox meds are used to remove harmful substances and toxins from the body under medical monitoring.
  3. Rehabilitation: Group therapies, rehab centers, and counseling assist in overall health management during withdrawal and rehabilitation phase.
  4. Recovery: moving towards a healthier lifestyle with the continued support of outpatient therapy.
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Medically Reviewed By Michael Espelin APRN
Isaak Stotts

About Author

Isaak Stotts, LP

Isaak Stotts is an in-house medical writer in AddictionResource. Isaak learned addiction psychology at Aspen University and got a Master's Degree in Arts in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. After graduation, he became a substance abuse counselor, providing individual, group, and family counseling for those who strive to achieve and maintain sobriety and recovery goals.


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