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Highlighting the danger — and popularity — of Adderall

Kate Miller wrote a fascinating first-hand account about her Adderall addiction in The New York Times.

For her, it all began her senior year of college as she battled a severe case of senioritis.

I started taking Adderall and things changed fast. I focused in the library for hours without distraction. I cranked out a 15-page research paper in one night, without wanting to take a break. I could shut out the world. Any immediate distractions were rendered powerless. It was just me and the paper in front of me. No broken heart, best friend drama or money woes were big enough to penetrate the tunnel vision Adderall provided.

The use of Adderall, or Addy as the kids call it, is skyrocketing because of what Miller describes: hyper-like focus. It helps kids write papers or cram for finals. Typically, Adderall is prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and because of that the pill is readily available at college campuses nationwide.

According to National Public Radio, one survey shows, “as many as 25 percent of students on some college campuses have used these study drugs in the past year.”

This number is alarming not because it gives students an edge while studying, but because Adderall is, “amphetamine-based. That means they can be habit-forming, according to Martha J. Farah, director at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania.”

In other words, this is a problem. Doctors must be well aware of the pill’s non-prescribed use, yet they keep dolling it out. What role should they play in limiting the availability of it? Some.

While some of the blame obviously lies on students who it was originally supplied to, the ones who sell it to their dorm mates for $5 a pill. What about the drug companies? Can they help slow down Adderall’s availability before it does become an epidemic or before the government feels the need to get involved?

Kate Miller eventually stopped taking pills but Adderall’s influence took its toll.

In the months that followed, I was exhausted all the time. I slept through appointments and was unable to stay up to meet deadlines. The drug had curbed my appetite, and helped me to drop from a size 8 to a 4. Without it now I was ravenous and neurotic about what I was eating and how I looked. I was sensitive and emotional from the new chemical imbalance, which gaining weight and falling behind at work exacerbated…
Without the drug I felt stupid, unable to focus or follow a thought through to completion. I was shy, and unwilling to initiate conversation. The witty, articulate woman I once was seemed to no longer exist. I felt dumb, out of it. I spoke slowly because it took immense effort to gather and express coherent thoughts.

Those are the most frightening words in her recollection. She describes the Adderall withdrawals as if they were from a hard drug, but on college campuses these are even easier to get. They are being prescribed and misused every day. Limiting the supply of it seems easier than limiting the supply of illegal drugs, but no one, it seems, is willing to take the steps to curb it.

There’s probably too much money involved.