Adderall On Campus: Use And Abuse

A drug prescribed for ADHD is all over college campuses now. We’re looking at the use and abuse of Adderall.

(Flickr/Alex Dodd)

(Flickr/Alex Dodd)

The United States has four percent of the world’s population, and produces 88 percent of the world’s legal stimulant drugs. Including Adderall, the amphetamine-based drug widely prescribed for ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Impressive numbers.

But visit an American college campus, and really pay attention, and they add up. Lots of young Americans, many with no ADHD, taking Adderall just to focus.

To read. To write. To perform. Now there’s Adderall addiction and suicide in the news, but it’s bigger than that.

This hour, On Point: Adderall everywhere on campus.

-Tom Ashbrook


Donald Misch, assistant vice chancellor for health and wellness, and director of the student health center at the University of Colorado Boulder. He’s a psychiatrist and internist.

Alan DeSantis, professor of communications at the University of Kentucky. He’s spent the last decade researching the illegal use of ADHD drugs on college campuses, gathering interview data from 300 students and survey data from more than 10,000 students.

Emma Diehl, student studying journalism at Lehigh University. Reporter for the student newspaper there “The Brown and White,” where her piece “Students Resort to Study Drug Adderall” ran last month.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times “The story of Richard Fee, an athletic, personable college class president and aspiring medical student, highlights widespread failings in the system through which five million Americans take medication for A.D.H.D., doctors and other experts said.”

The Brown and White “Adderall is a prescription drug intended to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attention deficit disorder (ADD) and narcolepsy. On campus, it’s as common as a tissue. You use it once and throw it away. You don’t even notice what you’re doing. The idea that a drug could be considered as trivial as a Kleenex is concerning. What does it say about our campus culture? What do study drugs mean to each student?”

Scientific American “But there is a delicate balance to be struck here between serving the needs of the ADHD population, many of whom benefit tremendously from the regulated use of stimulants, and potential drug addicts, like Richard.  It is also far from clear, given the nature of psychiatric nosology, that there are any surefire ways of stopping con-artists and addicts from gaming the system.”

FDA Medication Guide for Adderall


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