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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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  • http://twitter.com/TweeterSmart b smart

    took it once before an organic chemistry final, extremely focused and i thought my heart was going to explode.

    • Shag_Wevera

      How’d you do?

      • http://twitter.com/TweeterSmart b smart

        i passed but who’s to say it wasn’t a placebo effect

      • JobExperience

        He combined chemicals on the bench to make more Adderall, and some meth as a byproduct. Now he’s Breaking Bad.

    • Jasoturner

      Hmm.  You’d think worrying about an exploding heart would be a distraction…

    • hennorama

      The irony of using an organic compound to aid focus for an organic chemistry final may be lost here.

      But it’s no surprise that ingesting something that’s a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine would make one’s think one’s “heart was going to explode.”  That’s the nature of amphetamines – their “somewhat common” side effects include:

      Increased heart rate / blood pressure
      Increased body temperature / sweating
      Increased breathing rate
      Agitation / irritability
      Abdominal pain
      Emotional lability / mood swings
      Abnormal thought patterns
      Pupil dilation
      Impotence / sexual side effects
      Increased aggressiveness
      Increase in risk taking behavior

      Read more: http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/showwiki.php?title=Amphetamine#ixzz2K8gsDHke

      • Gregg Smith

        If you’ve been going 36 hours straight and have to drive the band truck 6 1/2 hours to the next gig and do it again, take a black beauty. It’s not a good way of life but it will get you to your destination.

  • ToyYoda

    OT: Sorry for this.

    Is the email on top of this page, the suggestion box for topics I’ve  been asking for?  I could mis-use it for that end.  By the way, if it is, you need to supply more characters than 300.  I would like to suggest topics, the reason, and give the relevant research (as I like to read and do my own studies.).So, take the current subject of adderall.  None of this is new to me.  This was brought to my attention in 2008 from several books I read on neuroscience, for instance ‘The Overflowing Brain’.  I’ve asked a few times for this topic to be talked over the last 5 years.  It be nice to ask for topics, and give you cited resources.


  • http://www.facebook.com/emily.antul Emily Barrett Antul

    This has been going 

    • JobExperience

      on for ever.

  • http://www.facebook.com/emily.antul Emily Barrett Antul

    Well, I was going to change something, but it posted my comment without my telling it to. -.- 

    This has been going on for years. Kids in my high school were selling their Ritalin to either be crushed up and used as speed or used for kids who didn’t have any issues, but were too lazy to just sit down and do the reading. 

    Here’s the problem: Kids aren’t reading. Their literacy levels are dropping every year because their parents don’t read to them when they’re little (gee, could our terrible maternity/paternity leave policies have something to do with that?), they aren’t required to read enough in school, and there are way too many cheats available for the appalling lazy among them. Many parents support the cheats, too, saying things like “well, I never liked reading.” It’s irresponsible parenting at best, and negligence at worst. 

    • 1Brett1

      I would agree that the joy of reading is no longer as emphasized as it should be. That, in conjunction with the increasing distractibility of the modern world, makes “attention” something that really has to be taught to children. 

      I am 58; our early readers were BORING to me (Dick and Jane, for example). I also was not read to at home. My first and second grade revealed a boy who couldn’t read well at all; luckily, my third grade teacher gave me some books I could get excited about, and I took off. I’ve been an avid reader (and writer) ever since. 

      I can also remember being made to read certain books/stories that were (I felt at the time) beneath my curiosity and interest. I can remember daydreaming while reading, having to repeat certain sentences and paragraphs (as I was reading without interest) and not having good comprehension/retention with some material. I knew that it pertained to the lack of stimulation in the material itself and not some flaw in my brain chemistry.

      ADHD and ADD are very real conditions that require some type of intervention. However, I feel those conditions are over-diagnosed and treated simply by a prescription drug, when often going deeper and helping the “patient” develop strategies, beyond taking a drug, is what is required.

      • JobExperience

        Observe how difficult shows like On Point find it to draw an audience for important authors. People have little time for books these days. They wait for the movie, TV dramatization or related game. I wonder if we are regressing or just adapting. When trapped in underground caves fish gradually lose their eyesight.

    • JobExperience

       We need most to accept the truth that children of wealthy and well-networked parents do not always belong in higher education, and that having the wherewithall to afford mental crutches and requirement exemptions should not buy access. The merit system works best.

  • 1Brett1

    Speed used recreationally and purely to function longer, as well as in a perceived enhanced way…hmm, I guess doctors never saw that coming? At least back in the drug days of the baby boomers, they knew they were taking heavy drugs and abusing them. 

    Adderall is a Schedule II narcotic, in the same category as morphine, pharmaceutical cocaine, etc. I can pretty much guess what unwanted effects of this drug would be, but we never hear about the dangerous effects of what happens when it is abused, when addiction, withdrawal and long-term effects are a part of any drug with such abuse potential. I wonder why that is? I find this aspect of any concern over Adderall to be suspicious.

    • JobExperience

       Used regularly by the US Air Force.

  • 1Brett1

    It’s one thing to be prescribed a short term narcotic analgesic for acute pain, even if a patient has “gamed” or conned the doctor a bit. And, if that pain is then touted by the patient as becoming chronic, for which the doctor would need to write a regular prescription for a narcotic analgesic, the doctor can pretty well determine what is really going on with the patient, i.e., is the patient abusing the drug/conning to get the drug for a “habit.”  

    With Adderall, it is prescribed for something that is not ever considered acute. Its use is not PRN or for a short-term treatment; it’s meant to be taken two or three times a day and every day. Often, the doctor prescribes this drug after only talking to the patient for a couple of minutes. Follow-up questions usually consist of, “is the medication helping? Good, here’s next month’s prescription.”  

  • http://www.facebook.com/irvwestyouthadvocate Irv West

    Important subject, but I do hope you and your guests will give it a broader context. I work with struggling youth and have seen them drugged into lethargy, instead of being given the help they need to find a fulfilling life. Psychotropic medications are the most profitable for the pharmaceutical industry, and that industry is the second most profitable in the world.

  • DrSurman

    There is a huge need for better information about the options for treating ADHD safely. This tragic story highlights an epidemic of prescription drug misuse But many clinicians and consumers trying to support the very real condition ADHD don’t know what a good evaluation includes or what the medication is appropriate for. Websites like Chadd.org can provide good information about how to get help in a safe way. It’s not just the risks of med misuse we all need to understand – Craig Surman MD Scientific Coordinator Adult ADHD Research Program Mass General Hospital

    • JobExperience

      My cousin who teaches dance has told me that Adderall is ubiquitous in Schools of the Arts and in dance companies. This has been true (speed taken by dancers) since the 60s. It has raised the performance bar and has cost lives. It is also prevalent in football and baseball as stated in many sports insider books. Maybe it contributes to early onset dementia rates. In a winner take all hierarchy such shortcuts are to be expected. Be careful the celebrities you emulate.

  • http://wh.gov/IVp4 Yar

    Our education system is broken.  Drug use, misuse, abuse, is only a symptom of educational failures, not at the root cause. Why is this day in age do people pay to sit 45 to 90 minutes in a lecture hall with 200 other fools and attempt to listen to an ‘expert’ read from their notes?  We have lost apprenticeships as a form of learning.  We are no longer vested in teaching our next generation, only in extracting wealth from families with children. This show misses the point by simply looking at symptoms.

    • JobExperience

       Your observations are correct.
      Formal education today is more a tool of oppression than empowerment.

  • Gregg Smith

    I think the whole ADHD thing is completely overblown. In my day we were just rambunctious. Over the years I have seen countless parents who drug their kids with ridoline. Most of the time it was more for the parents who couldn’t be bothered to be good parents. I’ve seen teachers who think they’re doctors suggest it because they couldn’t be bothered to be good teachers. 

    • DrewInGeorgia

      I never thought I’d say this Gregg but I agree with every word of your comment. To me it seems to stem from parents’ inability or unwillingness to instill respect for authority in their children. This comes as no surprise since most of US these days disrespect anything that doesn’t send a dollar our way. More often than not I feel that it’s the parent or parents who have a “disorder”, not the child.

    • http://argonnechronicles.blogspot.com/ Dee

      There are really two things going on here.  ADHD is very real. If you lived with a child suffering with this (and believe me, they do suffer with this), you would see that it is very very real and very frustrating for the child, the parents, the teachers, everyone.

      At the same time, we have put so much pressure on kids at younger and younger ages. We are pushing down the curriculum so that subjects are being taught one or two grades earlier than they used to be. We are making testing the end all, be all of student life. Add to that the fact that it’s much harder to get a good job today without a college education and you have a recipe for disaster. As a culture, we need to look at how we are living and what we are valuing. For a kid with ADHD this is a nightmare time to grow up.

      • Gregg Smith

        I certainly wouldn’t say it’s not real. We give horseback riding lessons here at the farm and have had 25 to 35 kids a week for the last 25 years. In addition there are summer camps for 4H, Girl Scouts and our own day camp. We must be informed when a child is taking drugs or has been diagnosed with any behavioral disorder. 

        I actually don’t have children but I mention all of that because I have seen hundreds of kids in varying degrees of need on these drugs. I got to know many of their parents as well. I have definitely seen the remarkable positive effects the drugs can have. 

        But in my experience the drugs are too widely used. I’m not a doctor and my little worldview may not mean much but it seems to me to be an easy way out for many. It’s not just the drugs. The same type parents drop their kids off and are not participants in the goal setting or lesson plan. They prefer keeping their kids placated from a distance. 

        Sorry if that’s about judgmental but it’s my opinion.

  • adks12020

    When I was in college (2000-2004) adderall, dexadrine, ritalin, etc. were everywhere. I remember trying it after friends said they used it to study.  Quite frankly I couldn’t study on any of that stuff. Sure it made me focus on something but it never seemed to be my homework. Plus the few times I did try it I found I didn’t retain anything. There’s no point in staying awake and alert to study when you forget most of what you study.

    I generally studied better with a glass or two of wine or beer and some good instrumental music….and I didn’t end up having a ridiculously fitful sleep due to being on amphetamines.

  • JobExperience

    True, good common sense. So are you suggesting strictures have lessened childhood freedom over time?
    ADHD, if it is actually identifiable as a malady, would most probably exist on a spectrum of severity, some diagnosable but better treated by accommodation than by medication.
    (In response to Gregg Smith below)

    • Gregg Smith

      I guess I am suggesting such.

      It’s an interesting point about diagnosis. At one point there was no blood test or brain scan or even psychiatric evaluation that could definitively point to ADD. Maybe that’s changed over the years. I’ve very sure some kids needs certain drugs to function but the percentage is small. 

      • JobExperience


  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    It’s created a situation where those who don’t really need it for ADHD can get it too easily – and those who truly have ADHD have to jump through so many hoops to get this drug, many can’t.


  • Steve_in_Vermont

    This (drug) problem cuts across all social lines and is prevalent throughout our
    society. Ads on TV suggest “ask your doctor about….is it right for you?”.
    Trouble sleeping at night? Anxiety? Depression? Problems with your sex life?
    Smoking? Stomach upset from eating to much of the wrong foods? Etc. etc. Wait,
    there’s a medication for everything. We’ve become a society where “instant
    gratification” is the norm, that any form of “suffering” is looked on as a
    defect that needs to be “cured”, usually with a pill. And we wonder why some of
    our people are turning violent? (and suicide is violence turned inward). This
    problem, as well as others, are social issues that will not be resolved with the
    passage of another “law” or “regulation”. These are our problems to resolve and expecting lawmakers to do this for us is setting ourselves up for failure.

    • Gregg Smith

      I agree completely, good post.

      Personally, I find fishing to be a good treatment for anxiety and depression. Putting up hay is good for sleep problems. And sex is good even when it’s bad. Life in general is a rush.

    • anon

      Very true.  As someone who lives overseas, I’m always kind of amazed at all those ads when I visit the US.

  • hypocracy1

    But have you tried Adderall.. on WEED?

    • DrewInGeorgia


    • Ray in VT

      Is there a guy in the bushes?  Red team go!

      • DrewInGeorgia

        You’re gonna make them paranoid…

  • keltcrusader

    As a mother of a 15yo son with ADHD, I can attest that learning about and working with this diagnosis is hard work and requires strong parental involvement. My son started showing sings very early (3 yo) and received early intervention which included a early-start preschool for social skill building, PT, OT, Language Therapy, Behavior Modification, and Reading tutoring. He was started on Ritalin when he was going into 1st grade and eventually was switched to Adderall XR (due to a change in our prescription coverage). This helped him focus during school hours and it did the job without making him into a zombie. He did great in school. We were always in consultation with his Dr. and I had to physically go into the Dr’s office and sign for his prescription on a monthly basis. The Dr made it very clear that there was to be no monkey-ing around with this type of stimulant and that my son would have no control over it’s despensing; that was my job as the parent. Any changes in dosage or type of medication was thoroughly discussed before being implemented. The biggest downfall was he was never hungry so he was really skinny and he had a hard time falling asleep, so he had a medication to help him to fall asleep.
    It was NEVER about just medicating him.

    He is now 15 and is no longer on any meds. He does well in school, is in chess club, plays alto & bari sax, and has taken up Cross-Country and Track (this really helps to burn off excess energy!!). He does still have trouble focusing at times, but we use the tools we have learned over the years to help him power through those difficult periods and help keep him organized.

    I find it disheartening to see people who have never had to deal with this dismiss it out of hand and blame the parents or the schools for the child’s “failings”. All parents just want the best for their kids and for them to do well in life, but that requires a firm foundation and early treatment. If the child had a treatable disease, would you deny them the medication that would help? Of course not and this is no different. My husband’s family has several members that were diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, some as children, but mostly as adults and they consider the medicines a god-send to help them navigate life.

    If the problem is with children or young adults treating this as a way to get high or even help concentrate in college or giving/selling to others then that would be a breakdown in the Dr’s recommended dosage and should be addresses when the prescription is updated or re-filled. Our Dr said they monitored these prescriptions very carefully to prevent this from happening because they could be held responsible for improper prescription writing, so if that is the case, where are all these extra meds come from?   

    • JobExperience

       Thanks for sharing. What matters is that your son is thriving today. Any 15 year old boy can keep a mom busy. Your caring was probably more important than Adderall. I think the environment has more impact than heredity in this diagnosis. Here’s wishing  your family good outcomes.

      • keltcrusader

        But I do have to disagree with you. We, as parents, could only do so much, but the medication made the ultimate difference in helping him to concentrate enough to be able to learn what was being taught and we reinforced this at home.
        I believe it is passed genetically, but I agree home environment does make a difference. 

    • DrewInGeorgia

      I’m glad to hear that your son is doing better.
      I understand your dismay with the view that a child’s lack of self-control is a result of a parents lack of influence. I have had this discussion with many of my friends over time regarding their children’s “behavioral disorders” and it’s a complex one. Ultimately it seems like the child’s environmental influences (all of them) are as much in play as any lack of parental authority.

      For me, all I knew growing up was that if I didn’t keep it in check there’d be Dad To Pay. Yes I had to pay sometimes, I was a kid.

    • http://argonnechronicles.blogspot.com/ Dee

       Keltcrusader, I completely understand. My son is 10 and is still struggling mightiliy in school. Even with medication, he struggles to stay focused. He is well behaved but it’s almost impossible for him to stay on task.  He wants to do well and is frustrated that his neurology fights against this.

      • keltcrusader

        Stick with it Dee! Some people have medicate for life and some not, but always approach it as what is best for your child and leave the naysayers and their negativity behind! Kids like this can do some pretty amazing things in life!

    • keltcrusader

      Oh, I forgot to mention the battery of tests my son went through before being diagnosed. We saw our pediatrician, social workers, & psychologists. He had blood work done to rule out lead poisoning. My husband & I each had to fill out numerous questionnaires about our family and our son, our pre-school filled out questionnaires about his behavior in class, and my son was tested in a series of tests over a period of 3 weeks.  We worked with behavior modification and other services for over 2 years before he started on meds in conjunction with the other services he recieved. There was no rush to judgment on this diagnosis or treatment and this isn’t a “fake” diagnosis. 

      • Gregg Smith

        I’m glad he got help.

        • keltcrusader

          “I think the whole ADHD thing is completely overblown.”

          Thanks Greg, but your words say different.

          • Gregg Smith

            Do you disagree that it is overblown? That notion cozies up nicely with the goodwill I sincerely offer, without contradiction.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Although this might be a current topic in the media, this was common when my daughter was in college 10 years ago.

    • JobExperience

       So true, but the naughty and scandalous draw audience.
      Producers are thankful the problem has not yet been fixed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/garret.woodward Garret K. Woodward

    I’m 27 years old. I was prescribed Ritalin when the diagnosis craze hit in the mid-1990s. The irony was I took myself off it right before I left high school, mainly because I didn’t believe in the drug, didn’t want to end up with long-term health risks from it and wanted to achieve things on my own. I couldn’t believe how many of college mates popped Adderall, similar to Ritalin, like breath mints. It astounded me how many people used it. It’s a huge market for dealers, and a huge nonchalant culture for students. 

    • JobExperience

      Bravo, Garret!
      You escaped the labeling.

    • NrthOfTheBorder

      Garrett your story should be heard by more people.  

      Where you say:  “…and wanted to achieve things on my own” is especially telling and counter to the miasma of being just fine with all manner of artificial dependencies, crutches, and props.

      Perhaps they are foisted on us by parents wanting to keep us away from failure or disappointment. Or, we ourselves  need to cope with anxiety and frustration born of poorly understood expectations and appetite.  

      Either way we trade self-reliance for addiction, and in the end, risk selling our freedom for a pittance.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    “Study Aid”, the New Speed.
    It used to be cocaine and caffeine.
    Am I the only one who thinks that prescribing pep pills as a substitute for self-control is a bad idea?

  • AC

    gees. i finished school 7 years ago & this is shocking. mostly i was studying like crazy plus as part of honors, you had to do community service and tutoring service.
    was all this happening around me & i’m just a clueless nerd? i never even heard about this happening….

  • ToyYoda

    They did a survey of cognitive enhancers in medical school 10 years ago, and about 40% of the students admitted to its use.  Back then, it was taboo to use these drugs, so that really tells me that everyone was using it.  That was 10 years ago.  

    I have a friend who use it in to get his MBA at Columbia University in the 80′s.  He had been slacking off at the time and had a big exam which he didn’t do much work for it.  He told me that he stayed up for 3 days straight.  And when studying, he would read his text books without impediments or pause.  He didn’t even worry whether what he was reading would be absorbed.  He just kept reading, and absorbed the information effortlessly.  Needless to say, he aced his exam, and got his MBA.

  • ToyYoda

    On the one hand, you don’t want people to abuse drugs.  On the other hand, do you want a surgeon who barely passed his exams or one that aced his exams through cognitive enhancers?

    • adks12020

      I don’t know about you but I don’t want a surgeon that takes amphetamines cutting me open. They don’t exactly lend to a steady hand.

      • ToyYoda

        Haha… yes that’s true, but my comment was about barely passing medical and someone who aced it, not about whether the surgeon keeps using it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WDIOY7RQ3F5EAR4EAP5FKRS52M bethrjacobs

    should be banned it is cheating

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      Ban coffee. Private schools. Private tutors. Having nicer parents than the other student. It is all uneven. It is all unfair. It is all cheating.

  • Brighid McCarthy

    I went to a liberal arts school where use and abuse of stimulants was virtually universal, and we felt tremendous pressure to keep up. Do professors understand that students are actually buying drugs to do their work? Professors need to take some responsibility for this. These drugs are some of the most dangerous and addictive– they are pharmacologically most comparable to methamphetamine. 

    • adks12020

      Absolutely not….professors are not responsible for students taking drugs. Students put the pressure on themselves. I have two professors at very good schools in my family. We’ve discussed these things. They aren’t giving any more work than they  than they were 25 years ago and the students were fine with it then. Why now is it their fault the students can’t keep up.

      • Brighid McCarthy

        I think there is a lot more work today– maybe not from every professor, but on the whole. I think as more and more kids began taking them, professors got used to this level of work– longer of papers, and the ability to squeeze work into less and less time. If professors took more responsibility they could help a lot. They should have a discussion during the first class period, making it clear that this is unacceptable and very dangerous, and that they will receive help with accommodation and alternative strategies. They should encourage students to reach out when they feel overloaded, stagger the due dates for papers and tests between classes. I felt very abandoned by my professors, who seemed to care more that I keep piling up the work product than that I succeed in a healthy, sustainable way. I was also disappointed in the school psychiatrist, who was responsible for the flood of prescriptions. When students sought help because they felt overwhelmed or even depressed, she suggested amphetamine! She wrote so many prescriptions, It seems to me that she must have known they were being redistributed.

  • Expanded_Consciousness

    Oh brother! Other students drink coffee and I don’t! It is an unfair advantage! It is a performance enhancing drug! I can’t compete and keep up!

    When are we going to outlaw Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts? When is caffeine going to be a prescription drug? When are energy drinks going to be outlawed? 

    Exercise should be outlawed, too! It stimulates my mind and wakes me up!

    Let’s have an even playing field? We never have had an even playing field, in any way. Ever.

  • adks12020

    It doesn’t give people an edge. That is completely false. People just think it does.  Just because you can stay up for longer doesn’t mean you will get better grades, retain more, or produce a better product.  Amphetamines can cause people to be jittery and unable to notice small details.  They can may write a paper in a few hours but how good is it?

    I used to help a roomtate with papers in college (review them for grammar mistakes and give suggestions).  His papers were completely dijointed with tons of spelling and grammar mistakes when he took adderall to stay up and finish.  They were not when he didn’t take it. That may be only one example but it makes total sense. These ADHD drugs are amphetamines.

    • JobExperience

      Flounder’s smart pills in Animal House?

  • JobExperience

    Adderall is about cheating for the most part because winning is everything now. Losers suffer so profoundly when access and opportunity shrink.

  • Coastghost

    Gee, back in the day, prescriptions were commonly forged. I’m sure tech-savvy Gen Now kids know how to send false prescription data to their local pharmacies over the internet.

    • JobExperience

       Internet by mail or parcel, or Craigslist.

  • monicaroland

    Good grief!  With all the information available about medications, there is NO excuse for anyone to take drugs unless medically necessary.  

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      Especially the drugs caffeine and alcohol.

      • JobExperience

         Do nicotine addicts have any choice?

  • bethrjacobs

    It is illegal they should be arrested it is an unfair advantage

    • JobExperience

      Yeah, spank them Pharmas.

      • bethrjacobs

        send the students to jail

        • Expanded_Consciousness

          Or just give them a legal prescription.

          • bethrjacobs

            it is still cheating you can get these very easily

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            It isn’t cheating. It is stimulating your mind and body. 

          • bethrjacobs

            it is cheating and it is tested on unwilling patients and animals and if you can’t afford it you would understand

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            If you can’t afford a private tutor and another student can, the wealthier student isn’t cheating.

          • bethrjacobs

            it is also cheating most of collage is a scam it used to only be for the rich then there was free pubic collage and now my taxes pay for some one else to go when I can not afford to most “great minds” never go at all

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            Education should be free or affordable. I agree with that.

  • manganbr

    Does anyone have a sense of how this induced state of mind effects the quality of the work that students produce? Yes, it may give them a sensation of alertness and focus, and the ability to produce more writing in less time. But if we’re talking about the kind of meditative slow, careful thinking often required to craft, say, an analytical research paper, might this drug be counter-productive for students?

    • JobExperience

      Maybe it works well on multiple choice tests but not in work requiring research and reflection. We have to ask what achievement  tests measure and whether principals and administrators might be promoting Adderall for achievement reasons. Are students a product or are they customers?

    • adks12020

      you are exactly right.  I made a comment below about exactly that. It’s one thing to use it for fill in the blank or multiple choice. It entirely different if you are trying to write a lengthy paper with multiple lines of research and analysis.

  • ewplayer3

    This needs to be taken seriously. I was on this for ADD earlier in life and remember the doctor telling me this is basically a low dosage of speed. I remember a feeling of time slowing to a near halt and an uneasy feeling. It did help my focus quite a bit, but if you aren’t prescribed it by a doctor, you shouldn’t be taking it.

    • JobExperience

       Like if doctors care anymore… huh!

  • MaxBTV

    I think we discovered that on my campus that our library was the biggest drug dealing den on campus. I personally was too afraid to try it because I thought if I tried it once I would want to use it for every paper and project thereafter.

  • ToyYoda

    Paul Erdos was a famous mathematician who died 1996 at the age of 83.  He used amphetamines to help him work.  Also, the poet WH Auden used it as well to help him write.

    • JobExperience

      Rare exceptions prove nothing. Imagine the pile of mathematician and poet wannabes in the ditch.
      Should we all pig out on cocaine, emulating  Sigmund Freud? Distopian writers often depict mass drugging of humanity as a nightmare, and are probably right in their intuition.

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      Add Foucault to that list.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=597176301 Nate Peyman

    on facebook, “community” of Adderall users…

    • JobExperience

       Helpful link.

  • kristen7788

    People who use adderall illegally are making it very difficult for those who need to use it for narcolopsey and for adult ADHD. The doctors who are prescribing it to patients who need it for these conditions are put in a position that they are counselling patients who have actual dysfunctions that are helped remarkably without these effects (excessive wakefullness, lack of appetite, etc.). Patients are stigmatized when they seek this medication thanks to those who have abused the drug.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=597176301 Nate Peyman

    Adderall Song

    (Evan Greer & Friends)

    Music and lyrics by Evan Greer

    MP3 download whole song, hi-fi

    MP3 play whole song, hi-fi (broadband)

    MP3 play whole song, lo-fi (modem)

    evan – guitars, vocals
    mimi lavalley – vocals (www.mimilavalley.com
    ben lucal – drums
    jory leanza-carey – bass

    mrs greer your son acts up in class
    he asks the questions that you’re not supposed to ask
    mr. greer, it’s pretty plain to see
    your son has got adhd
    and the doctors say he needs
    30 milligrams of amphetamines
    when i turned eight years old
    they put me on the pills
    one to focus me at school
    help me follow all the rules
    and one to keep my tears away
    cuz little boys should never cry
    one to help me through my day
    one to help me sleep at night
    and i had so few memories
    of what it was like before
    that i took those damn pills everyday
    since 1994
    now i recognize the system
    i see what they’re really for
    i’m not giving you my money
    i won’t take them anymore 
    i was in the dead center of the country
    when i popped my final pill
    i sold the rest of the bottle
    to some kids from chicago
    then turned toward something new
    and for the first time in my life
    i felt at peace with who i was
    i couldn’t wait to share the new world out there
    with all the people that i loved
    and i had so few memories of what it was like before
    the first week i went without them felt like i had been reborn
    now i recognize the system i see what they’re really for
    i’m not giving you my money i won’t take them anymore 
    that’s when i got to thinking
    about this society
    and how there’s something wrong
    when a kid so young’s put on amphetamines
    at first i blamed my parents
    then the doctors then the schools
    but if you wanna fight back
    look higher than that
    at the filthy frat cat with the big contract
    at those puppy killing labs
    the results come back
    taking science fiction and calling it fact 
    and if it screws you up they don’t give a crap
    cuz they can still drive home in their cadillacs
    making money off a game where the decks are stacked
    and if that’s not enough it’s bigger than that
    that’s just one of this system’s many attacks on you
    so what are we gonna do? 
    and do i have so few memories of what it was like before
    that i can write this song with smoke in my lungs
    and a bottle on the floor?
    now i recognize those systems
    i see what they’re really for
    i’m not giving you my money
    i won’t buy it anymore


    • kristen7788

      You figured this all out at a young age Nate- good for you. The drug industry really has its own interest at heart, or so it seems. A personless face, but let’s not forget, corporations are “people” now, right? Good luck to you, stay strong.

  • http://twitter.com/girlbuildsfire Jeni Rector

    I work in a very busy marketing department and our intern, who is a senior in college with a full class load and 20 hours per week here, takes Adderall AND consumes energy drinks all day long. I’m terrified that she’s going to drop dead at age 20.

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      She is a senior in college and isn’t 20 yet? Boy Adderall works well.

      • http://twitter.com/girlbuildsfire Jeni Rector

        She’s 20 now – 21 this summer. Took college courses in high school. Ambition or Adderall? :)

        • hennorama

          I think we have hit on a new drug brand name – Ambiterall.

  • Megan Sears

    is the connection between the structure of our education system and why
    students feel the need to take drugs in order to succeed? What does
    this say about our society in general? Once students leave school will
    they stop? Or does that continue into their careers? I think we need to
    be asking the bigger questions here instead of blaming the students.

    • Kathy

      Of course it continues onto careers. These are the demands society makes of workers.

  • Expanded_Consciousness

    Enhancing drugs are the wave of the future. They are going to become better and safer over time. One thing is for sure, they aren’t going away.

    • ToyYoda

      I’m quite close to this position as well. As long as we live in an environment where competition is fostered and winners are rewarded, there will always be a demand, even need to have cognitive and athletic performance.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      The ultimate enhancement will be plugging in to the Matrix.

      • Ray in VT

        Who says that we’re not already?

        • TomK_in_Boston

          Haha. We can’t.
          Seriously, I have no doubt that some day people will look back at our use of video displays as a primitive transitional period before we learned to plug directly into the data stream.

  • Kathy

    I could use some extra concentration for a second job. Where do I sign up?

  • http://twitter.com/PinchersMcGee PinchersMcGee

    I was on Adderall for my ADHD throughout college and graduate school. I told none of my friends that I had ADHD because I knew that I would be pressured to give it to them (or risk them stealing it).

    Thankfully, I’m off of the drug now, and I no longer have to suffer its horrible side affects which included being chronically underweight and feeling emotionally amputated. This is a dangerous drug and those who abuse it should be treated the same as meth addicts and suffer the very same stigmas.

  • M K

    I took prescription dexedrine, which is stronger than adderall, up to 110 mg/day for ADHD for about 5 years.  It certainly *is not* as bad for you as drinking or smoking.  So part of the problem here, in addition to a “pharmaceutically inclined culture”, is a culture which is also inclined to spread ludicrous and outrageous negative falsehoods and stereotypes about drug use.  Intelligent, educated adults (such as you might find at college) KNOW THAT.  If you are really concerned about “the problem”, you need to get real and avoid patronizing drug war rhetoric which no one believes.

    • Brighid McCarthy

      What makes you think it is less dangerous? You can’t just “tell”. People went a long time thinking smoking wasn’t dangerous– you can’t feel mutating DNA. 

  • TomK_in_Boston

    What about the use of drugs in online forums? Based on the comments, some participants here are highly medicated!

    Seriously…2 things: 1. the psych sector has had a major shift from “talk therapy” to medication. In part I think it’s just because giving ‘em a pill is easier and cheaper. 2. Due to the ongoing class war, finding a job after college is getting harder over time, leading to more pressure to get an edge. Geez, when I graduated nobody had debt and nobody had the slightest concern about finding a job…funny how those were the high tax, high regulation 70s, huh? Doesn’t exactly fit the voodoo econ catechism.

  • rogger2

    The problem is that nobody can focus. 

    Look at all the people who compulsively check their iphones, facebook, twitter, etc.?  

    People don’t know how to cut that out and focus on that task at hand.   

    • DrewInGeorgia

      Like I’ve said in the past: It all boils down to a lack of self-control.

      • rogger2

        Exactly, I have a hard time believing students do not have enough time to complete their work and do well. 

        Procrastination is nothing new and it’s not the professor’s or doctor’s fault… turn off your phones, computers, etc. and learn to focus.  

    • hennorama

      rogger2 – I’m not certain that “[t]he problem is that nobody can focus.”  Rather, it may be that attention spans have dropped.  Putting a bit of a twist on your statement – the problem may be that more people focus for shorter periods of time.

      The average adult attention span has declined 33% in just  the last 12 years, from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2012.  As a comparison, the average goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds.  Of course, a goldfish’s life has far fewer stimuli than does the average adult.

      Check out the chart on attention span here:


      I noted this in during last year’s election campaigns, positing that some candidates (notably Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan) appeared to be relying on the declining attention span of Americans in this age of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google et al.  Some candidates’ changing positions seemed to have no impact on their poll numbers.  Declining attention spans may mean some will tend to believe the last thing they hear that “Sounds good” since their brains are so much more short-term oriented.  They may fail to recall the prior statements and positions that are the exact opposite of the latest messages.

      In addition, the simultaneous consumption of various multimedia appears to be overwhelming our brains, and perhaps even changing our brains so that we have difficulty picking up on nonverbal cues such as facial expressions, tones of voice, and body language.

      “Research on the brain’s response to electronic media is fascinating, and not a little disturbing. On the plus side, it suggests that digital natives have higher baseline activity in the part of the brain governing short-term memory, the sorting of complex information, and the integration of sensations and thoughts — so, in certain respects, computers make you smarter. As if to underline that point, IQ scores are on the increase in the United States as the number of digital natives rises, and people’s ability to multitask without errors is improving.

      “But other research suggests that excessive, long-term exposure to electronic environments is reconfiguring young people’s neural networks and possibly diminishing their ability to develop empathy, interpersonal relations, and nonverbal communication skills … With more time devoted to computers and less to in-person interactions, young people may be understimulating and underdeveloping the neural pathways necessary for honing social skills. Another study shows that after long periods of time on the internet, digital natives display poor eye contact and a reluctance to interact socially.”

      This poor eye contact and reluctance to interact, and clear diminutition of empathy and nonverbal skills can also play a role when an individual is examined by a mental health professional, and could potentially lead to misdiagnosis of ADHD.


      These are complex issues.  Self-diagnosis and/or self-medication are rarely advisable.

  • Observer

    Is there a problem with students getting Adderall on the black market, and the “Adderall” turning out to be something else possibly toxic?

  • adks12020

    I think something people need to realize is that when a student  is reporting 80-90% use among other students they aren’t taking into account the fact that people who take adderall probably hang out with others that do. That will make the users preceive overall use in the population as being higher.  

    Its just like with any other drug. People who use drugs hang out with others that do.

  • ToyYoda

    There’s another drug on the horizon, modafinil, which was originally developed by the military to remove the symptoms of sleep deprivation and for pilots and soldiers to perform extended missions and battles.

    Imagine having a boss who demands 112 hours of the week out of you.

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      Modafinil has been around for years now. Prescribed to narcoleptic and those with jet-lag, it gives alertness without the heart-racing speedy effects. 

      • ToyYoda

        It predates Adderall by a few years.  I just think it could the next wave or near it.

  • miriammmm

    My daughter went to Univerisity of Colorado at Boulder and I have say the health center there was as much a culprit. She was recovering from a head injury and had some learning disabilities.  She was being followed by a psychiatrist at the Wardenburg health center. Inspite of her tellling them she did not want to be on medication she was overprescribed aderol, and other strong meds.  She was hardly followed, ten minutes once a month, long enough to write more prescriptions.  One appt she reported she wasn’t doing well. Rather than referring her for more help and following up she was given more prescriptions. 
    She has transferred to a University in Washington state where she is drug free and taking the heaviest load of classes yet.

    • Brighid McCarthy

      Yes, the school counseling and psychiatry staff was complicit in my experience. I even saw it prescribed to students already diagnosed as bipolar. That is the staff’s solution when students complain about being overwhelmed. I think the staff prescribed it because they knew students would shop around from doctor to doctor, until they found it.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/QMDZ3LH5U2B4GAT7J2HS4TCP6E Jim

    I don’t perceive this drug negatively compare with steroid use by athletes. Risk is there and there is a price to pay for using these drugs. I was using heavy caffeine to keep me awake in college. Instead of working smart, i work hard and i paid the price with sleeping disorder for many many many years after graduation.

    look, the 2008 meltdown does not come without a big price tag. No one was prosecuted or went to prison in wall street. Someone must pay the price. part of the cost is pass to the college students who had to compete for a small number of low wage jobs after graduation. these kids are taking unnecessary risk coming from possible health issues and addiction.

  • Coastghost

    Kids: amphetamines have been in public schools, colleges, and universities for decades, so feel free to tone down the alarm a notch or three. The perceived benefits and the actual dangers are as present as ever, too. A little research would remind users that prolonged amphetamine use presents all kinds of complications: at least, I’ve heard stories of Japanese soldiers kept alert w/amphetamines for weeks at a time in WWII, with severe depression resulting on discontinuation. –On another hand: if Adderall comes in tabs of 20 mg and lower, present dangers are perhaps not so great. The dangers of toxic psychosis look to be somewhat smaller than they were decades ago with drugs as powerful as phenmetrazine hydrochloride (trade name Preludin, no longer on the market), marketed as a weight-loss treatment. (It worked: I lost fifteen pounds in five days at Mardi Gras 1976, got the toxic psychosis to go with it, but then, we were cooking them down for intravenous injection: I won’t name the state university I was attending, to protect the guilty and innocent.)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    With so many kids risking $10′s of thousands if not $100′s of thousands on the hopes of getting a good job in the field they want that will pay enough to pay back these loans, I expect the risks of Adderall look pretty small in comparison.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/27MM6MQGHRFUVJWOW6P3IV536Y John

    I have ADHD and LD. We need better enforcement of current drug laws. Can’t even mention that I have ADHD while on campus, because the situation is getting out of hand. These people deserve to spend at least some time in jail. How ironic that I’m called an ‘addict’ for having a prescription for a diagnosed condition, I don’t even like using it. 

  • Brighid McCarthy

    This is Karoshi in the west. (Working to death)

  • rosedickerson

    Why are we surprised by stimulant use at the college level?  There is an industry of prescribing and using ADD drugs at the elementary and high school level.  Kids with ADD diagnosis at an early age have grown up thinking that they can’t study without medication.  We need to look at the industry at large and the diagnosis process which is highly subjective.

    • Dosojosverdes

      I have just found, enjoyed and agreed with your post, which states the same as mine, only in a much shorter, less personal, yet easier to read way! I will have to learn to cut to the chase in this world of posts! I fully agree with you on this issue.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=597176301 Nate Peyman
  • DrewInGeorgia
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1385473184 Sarah Blout

    This is not just about college campuses. I know adults in their 30s who use it to party harder and longer. I was just at a wedding where all the bridesmaids took it the whole weekend to make it through all the festivities.

  • David Sallen

    so sorry to hear my favorite program default to such trite and misleading treatment of such a valuable medication. i.e., have you ever considered a program on how much Adderall has HELPED millions? to wit, did you know the med’s bad reputation originated when Scientology (in the 80s) disseminated bogus info to a lazy media who widely passed it on as factual? in my case, i couldn’t make it thru college as a teen, but many years later, with an ADD dx and an rx for Adderall, i glided to a Harvard MEd. the focus shouldn’t be solely on how overprescribed this med is because it is to a greater extent UNDER prescribed. i know far more people who need this med and won’t take it because of its unfair reputation. and tho there’s too much to write here, let me say that this med is NOT addictive. sure people get addicted, but people get addicted to all sorts of things for all sorts of reasons. i have taken the med since the late 90s and (as many like me can attest) the problem with taking it 2 or 3x per day is REMEMBERING when it’s time for my next dose. last i checked, FORGETTING a drug is NOT a strong indicator of addictive properties! so much more to say … AARGH! c’mon On Point — you’re better than this!!!

    • hennorama

      David Sallen – congrats on your experiences with the use of prescribed amphetamines under the supervision of a health care professional.  However, your anecdotal experience cannot be relied on as unbiased evidence.

      Adderall’s wide proper use and wide abuse, either through legal or illegal use, is well-documented.  It is not a benign substance, and its use and abuse may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.  Adderall use can also have significant side effects, none of which should be taken lightly.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Not too loose or too easy Tom, too incentivized.

  • http://www.facebook.com/crowell.jon Jon Crowell

    Please clearly address what the downsides of taking Adderall are.  So far it seems that it just makes you focus and study better.  What are the terrible consequences?  Why isn’t it no more concerning than a strong cup of coffee?

    • Brighid McCarthy

      It’s quite similar to methamphetamine in pharmacology. It’s extremely cardiotoxic and Adderall is also neurotoxic (Ritalin doesn’t seem to be)

      • Brighid McCarthy

        Also, it is being insuffilated. 

        • hennorama

          Brighid McCarthy – TY for giving me my new word for today – insufflation.  I discovered that it means of “blowing something into a body cavity.”

          Perhaps one might prescribe frequent insufflation of warm breath into a partner’s auditory canal as breakup prevention?

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/27MM6MQGHRFUVJWOW6P3IV536Y John

      In small amounts: Increase in heart rate. Slight increase in adrenaline (alot more if abused). Increase in kidney function (thus increased thirst). Decreased appetite. 
      In large amounts: All of the above. Some experience extreme anxiety and mood swings similar to bipolar disorder. Mania. Arrhythmia. Seizures. Stroke risk. 

  • Expanded_Consciousness

    There is a difference between college kids occasionally using it and those that abuse it. These categories should not be conflated.

    I. A college student occasionally taking it without a prescription.

    II. A college student taking it daily with a prescription.

    III. A college student crushing it and abusing it as a recreational party drug.

    Category I is actually the safest, yet is being treated here as if it is the most dangerous!

    • hennorama

      Expanded_Consciousness – you raise a valid point about these distinctions.

      However, one must remember that Adderall is a Schedule II controlled substance.  While Adderall has currently accepted medical uses, it has a high potential for abuse.  Such abuse may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence, and its use also has significant side effects, none of which should be taken lightly.

      As Adderall is a Schedule II controlled substance, the uses you’ve described in your Categories I and III are also completely illegal.

      Finally, emerging science about brain development suggests that most people don’t reach full maturity until age 25.  College students under age 25 therefore may not have the maturity required to properly consider the risks involved in either “occasionally taking it without a prescription” or “crushing it and abusing it as a recreational party drug.”

      • Expanded_Consciousness

        You are an adult in this society at age 18. It is condescending to use neuroscience to tell 18 – 25 year old adults that they are constitutionally unable to make a choice that you are able to make. Using your argument we should rescind the right of 18 – 25 year-olds to vote in elections.

        • hennorama

          Expanded_Consciousness – Ty for your response. I appreciate and respect your views.

          That said, you are both mischaracterizing my post and using a sophistic argument.

          I never said anything like “18 – 25 year old adults … are constitutionally unable to make a choice.” Rather, I said “College students under age 25 therefore MAY not have the maturity required to properly CONSIDER the risks involved…” [emphasis added]. Not to make a choice, but to consider the risks.

          The two circumstances that I referred to relative to potential brain developmental immaturity (“occasionally taking it without a prescription” or “crushing it and abusing it as a recreational party drug.”) are both illegal uses and uses without the consultation and advice of a health care professional. Adderall is not a benign substance, and using it, whether legally or illegally, carries potential risks to the user’s health. This is undeniable.

          That is not the case with the right to vote. Voting does not present potential risks to the voter’s health, at least not in the US.

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            Part of making a choice is to assess the risks. This is something 18 – 25 year old adults can do. It is condescending to say otherwise. 

            Consultation and advice of a healthcare professional? Let’s get real. I have trouble with focus and with motivation. Take these and let me know if they help. They can suppress appetite, dehydrate, and cause insomnia. See you in three weeks. 

          • hennorama

            Expanded_Consciousness – TY for your response.

            It’s notable that you continue to falsely indicate that I have somehow said that adults under age 25 cannot assess risks or make choices. It’s also notable that you have not addressed the illegality of the uses referred to.

            Perhaps your are having trouble with your own focus, given your repeated mischaracterization of my words, even after such mischaracterization has been pointed out. I’ll try to help by adding emphasis yet again.

            Re-read my posts. I’ve never said young adults CAN’T assess risks or make choices. I’ve pointed out that emerging science about brain development SUGGESTS that MOST people don’t reach full maturity until age 25 and therefore MAY not have the maturity required to properly consider the risks involved in either “occasionally taking it without a prescription” or “crushing it and abusing it as a recreational party drug.”

            As to your characterization about consultation and advice of a health care professional being “I have trouble with focus and with motivation. Take these and let me know if they help. They can suppress appetite, dehydrate, and cause insomnia. See you in three weeks.” This certainly may be true in some or even many cases. Regardless, it is superior to “Hey – I hear you have trouble with focus and with motivation. I have some leftover Adderall and it helped me. Want some?”

            “Get real” indeed.

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            18 to 25 year-olds can consider the risks. Considering the risks is part of making choices. Arguing that 18 – 25 year-olds are brain damaged or biologically inferior is not that far removed from blacks being assessed 3/5th human. It the misuse of science.

            Perhaps 18 – 25 year-olds shouldn’t ever be charged with intentional homicide or any other crime. After all, their neurons weren’t done growing and, heck, they had no idea what they were doing. Ever. Just no clue.

          • hennorama

            Expanded_Consciousness – strike three. That’s the 3rd instance of you mischaracterizing my posts. Reading comprehension is clearly not your strongest suit.

            Nowhere have I claimed “that 18 – 25 year-olds are brain damaged or biologically inferior.” In fact, I’ve never even included 25 year olds in anything, always discussing those under age 25 or over age 25. There’s that reading comprehension thing again.

            “Just no clue” indeed.

          • Expanded_Consciousness

            It is you that is unable to comprehend the notion of choice. A philosopher you are not. Just someone who misuses scientific studies.

  • miriammmm

    My daughter went to University of CO at Boulder and was prescribed aderal and other heavy duty meds she didn’t request or need from the Wardenburg Health Center there.  She was hardly followed, one ten minute appt once a month – long enough to write more prescriptions. One month she reported she was not doing well and rather than being referred for help and followed up with, she was given more prescriptions.  The college health centers are culpable too. At Boulder they wrote prescriptions with no questions asked and no follow up.
    She has transferred to a university in WA state and I’m happy to say she is medication free and taking the heaviest course load yet.

  • sheryltr

    Between helicopter parents and drugs to “cure” every growing pain, we are raising a generation of weak and dependent human beings. High school is tough, college is tough, life is tough. Get over it, pull yourself up by your bootstraps and move forward!

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      It is not weakness to take an enhancer. It is a choice.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/3G6H4TMKWM3KFPGVM35PRUCKSM yahoo-3G6H4TMKWM3KFPGVM35PRUCKSM

    You could replace the words adderal with marijuana in almost all cases in your discussion!  There are so many kids smoking pot in high school and on college campuses to handle stress.  Shouldn’t we be focused on both prescription and non prescription drug use? 

  • PithHelmut

    Is anyone going to question the way the system forces students to study so furiously?  Our system is sick by the way we force-feed our children medication to fit into the sick testing system. It is certainly not an education system. It’s as good as a training system for corporations. ADHD wouldn’t be rife if learning was actually interesting. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/cat.bennett.1800 Cat Bennett

    I am a freshman, and before coming to college, had never even heard of Adderall; I  didn’t even know how to spell it! When one of my best friends casually said she was going get some one night during finals week, I was shocked. This is an organized girl who meditates weekly, tries to eat organically, believes the pharmaceutical corporations are in the wrong. Yet both she and another friend  of mine willingly used an ADHD drug during finals week, although they told me not get on it.  

    • Dosojosverdes

      Hi Cat,

      I’m going to take a wild guess that you are female and probably did fine in grade school. It is overwhelmingly boys who are thought to be “off track” in grade school and a vast majority of prescriptions for younger ADHD students are written for boys. Many teachers in the early grades are women, who liked school when they were young, and they have no idea about how to interest boys in the classwork that they are forced to plod through. When boys don’t color within the lines, or want to be more physical about learning, hands-on style, it is marked down to ADHD. And thus it begins. 
      I hope that you continue to stay away from using these types of stimulants and stay true to yourself. I promise it will work out fine in the long run, if you show courage now to study the old fashioned way. It is the only way to build the stamina that will truly help you get ahead in a real life. Getting ahead does not always mean having the highest paid job. For many people, it means supporting yourself and your family whilst still finding joy and happiness in your day-to-day life. You go girl (if I’m not mistaken!)

  • ODude

    You should do a follow up conversation on all ADD meds and their pervasiveness in our entire culture. 
    I come from the perspective of a person with ADD who at different points in my life discontinued my use of Ritalin because of social stigma with going to the nurse’s office during junior high and high school.  I have a cousin who had to go to the hospital from taking too much Adderol while studying for college exams.  I have friends who counsel poor families, where parents strive to get their children diagnosed with ADD to get more monthly federal financial support.  (I would hate to think that some of these young women are actually doing things during their pregnancy that they think will likely derive symptoms for their child.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=683500385 Cory Murphy

    You should talk more about students abuse of prescription stimulants at parties. People use them like they would Cocaine by crushing up the pills and snorting the powder for the fast acting affects, or mixing capsule powder with drinks. It keeps you alert and prevents you from blacking out so you can drink more and feel like you’re not getting drunk. 

    • hennorama

      Cory Murphy – Isn’t that what energy drinks are for?

      Prior generations have combined cocaine and diazepam (Valium) or cocaine and alcohol for their offsetting up/down effects (or so I’ve been told).  Of course, this was before the widespread availability of hyper-caffeinated beverages.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=597176301 Nate Peyman
  • http://www.facebook.com/christine.catterton Christine Catterton

    Why don’t we treat this like the “doping” that it is. Students caught dealing/using should be suspended and have their grades nullified! The message on campus should be to clean up the doping culture. 
    Meth has been used by the govt/military and for diet/weight control – look where that has gotten us.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Right on caller! Widespread addiction and denial, I agree completely.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    I was diagnosed with ADHD. Tried three different formulations of Aderall and one other alternative. It didn’t help and on top of that, I didn’t like how they made me feel. This experiment lasted three months.  I can’t imagine taking higher doses to perform better. It was anything but a performance enhancer for my brain chemistry.

    I just started drinking more Tea and stopped chugging carbonated sugar water and inhaling chocolate every hour or so. That made a huge difference!

    Here’s a thought: until someone stops inhaling vast quantities of carbonated sugar water and junk food, they should not be prescribed these very expensive drugs that do God knows what to a developing mind.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000590287542 Mark Fox

    I’m 36, and didn’t get diagnosed with ADHD until 10 years ago. I take a fairly large dose of aderral every day, an it helps me tremendously.  Nevertheless, I am perturbed to think about taking it every day for the rest of my life in part because the health risks from 3, 4, 5 decades of use are not yet clear. 

    I am also confused and suspicious about the dichotomy in the rhetoric about the low health risks for prescribed use and the grave dangers associated with illegal use. I get that there are different neurological effects on people who have ADHD, but it doesn’t make sense to me that the long-term health risks, or even the risks of emergency room visits due to over-stimulation, would be so much greater for people who don’t have a prescription. It smacks of the propaganda about the dangers of marijuana use that is now commonly accepted to be overblown.

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      It is safe as a prescribed drug and safe as an occasional study aid. It is only dangerous when used as a party drug (crushed, high dose).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Ciolino/646810084 Mike Ciolino

    I was diagnosed with adult ADD at age 30 and have taken the max dosage for over 10 years now – Before Adderall I was by most standards a healthy functioning individual – College graduate and working as a graphic designer.  With Adderall however I have been able to start a successful web design business which I have run for 10 years.  

    I am clear that I would not be able to live my Adderall enhanced life without Adderall – But that said, I would be living an acceptable – however less achieving and scatterbrained life without.

    Do I need Adderall? No.  Does it enhance my life? Absolutely.   But I do feel fairly privileged to have the opportunity to live in this time where it is available.

    Finally – What is it like?

    In the morning, I wake up foggy-brained and unmotivated. 30 minutes after taking Adderall, I am feeling motivated, creative and excited to start my day.  I can then work without interruption or break for 8-10-12 hours. Probably not healthy – but I certainly achieve more.


    • Fred_in_Newton_MA

      Similar experience to Mike’s, but diagnosed later in life, in 50s, several years ago.  Now taking a minimum dosage Adderall many, but not all, workdays.  Can really help focus & with retention of new information (I design/develop software related to electronics). 

      Had heard about adult ADD some years earlier, but didn’t tie things together until  I was preparing for a job interview & found it a struggle to get through material I had worked with over several years.  The psychologist who recommended it said that after using it a while, I could decrease the amount used because the brain would become better at the functions being assisted by the drug – this has, in fact, been my experience.

      After using the drug for a while, I mentioned it to my internist.  He related the experience of another patient, in his 30s & a construction business owner, who cried as he related how much the drug had changed his life a few years earlier.

      • hennorama

        One must note that MadMarkTheCodeWarrior’s, Mark Fox’s, Mike Ciolino’s and Fred_in_Newton_MA’s (and others) stories involve the (presumably) prescribed usage of this branded amphetamine, under the care and supervision of health care professionals.  This is in marked contrast with much of the use and abuse discussed on this show.

        There’s an enormous difference.

        • Fred_in_Newton_MA

          Yes, and No.  Yes, I got the original Rx thru a consult with a psychiatrist to whom I related my experiences and the opinion of the psychologist.  Did follow-up visits when needing refills for a while, expecting some discussion of how things were going, etc.  He just wanted to chat, fill out a Rx form, & send a bill.  That was when I asked my internist who had no problem sending the refill Rx’s on request – no visit, no extra bill, if you follow my thread.
          Based on the ubiquity of this Rx class (there was a shortage about a year ago, making it hard to get for a while), I suspect the whole work-up, diagnosis route might be unnecessary in practice.
          The upshot is, for those of us using the drug as adults, we are the ones responsible for assessing their effectiveness and using responsibly.  The fact is, addictive or abusive use of almost any substance (think alcohol or chocolate cake) is possible and common. 

          • hennorama

            Fred_in_Newton_MA – Ty for your response. I respect your views.

            You left off the important parenthetical qualifier in my post – “(presumably)”. I purposely put this in to be able to include the circumstances you describe – the relatively unsupervised continued use subsequent to the initial prescription. But all the stories referenced had a link to a diagnosis by a health care professional, and all the usage, where the age of the poster could be determined, were by adults over age 25 when the prescribed use of this drug began.

            I also did not mean to imply that the user has no responsibility in the use of Adderall in particular or potentially addictive substances in general. My point was that the uses being described by you and the others referenced in my post had a direct link to a health care professional, and happened after the poster was age 25, in marked contrast with much of the “Adderall On Campus: Use And Abuse” discussed on the show.

            Therefore, these were instances of informed consent on the part of the users, not casual and/or uninformed and/or illegal use. This is a big difference, ergo my remarks.

  • DeJay79

     “my life is full of distractions, I need a drug.” Or you could just have less distractions

    “the drug i take makes it tough to sleep, i need another one to help me sleep”. OR just stop taking it!

    “the two drugs i am on ruin my hunger, I need a third to restore my apatite.” OR JUST Stop taking them!

    gain to much weight from all the food i now eat because of the pills I
    am on, I need one to reduce my fat.” OR JUST STOP TAKING THEM ALL!!!

    will it all end? Soon we will have a pill to wake us up a pill to eat
    as breakfast, a pill to help us drive to work, a pill to focus at work, a
    break pill to help us use facebook and twitter, a pill to help with
    lunch, a pill to work again, a pill to keep us looking good and help do
    our wokrout, a pill to have before a drink after work so we don’t get to
    drunk, a pill to eat dinner, a pill so we can laugh at tv shows, and a
    pill to fall asleep, or a pill for better sex (oh wait we have that one

    And with all of this the Pharmaceutical Industry is laughing all the way to the bank (only after taking their ‘be happy about earning lots of money unethically’ pill, ofcourse).

    I think I am in the wrong business ;)

  • Brighid McCarthy

    I do think this is dangerous– students are, accurately  call it “speed.” But even if you don’t think there’s anything wrong or dangerous about stimulants, doesn’t it seem wrong that students feel so much pressure to take it when they don’t want to?

  • Roberto1194

    There is clearly a culture of “striving” here.
    This IS an ethical and moral problem.
    Our children -with our duplicity- are self medicating for
    their -and our- true “addiction” to “performance” in striving to achieve some rather abstract and unreliable economic notion of self-worth and success.
    The underlying truth is that a person so involved in conducting their life to please or perform for some external measure of value will eventually need to confront the shadow of this 
    un-genuine Self.
    It’s perfectly consistent that student depression. suicide, and other symptoms of deep suffering and existential distress are also coincident with this situation.

  • GJMF45

    I believe doctors must stop prescribing stimulants as easily as they do, students & parents must be taught about the risks of stimulants and teachers and professors must allow students who have AD(H)D more time to complete papers etc. 

    Stimulants can help some students with diagnosed AD(H)D. A diagnosis needs to be done very carefully, since child abuse, drug use, brain trauma or other disorders can also look like symptoms of AD(H)D. The main symptom of AD(H)D is an inability to stay focused on an imposed task. There is research that shows that stimulant drugs remove access to artistic flow and inspiration of new views. Are kids feeling only that they have to regurgitate information and not necessarily learn with creative inspiration?  

    Neurofeedback is a method of teaching a child or adult how to focus attention without drugs. There are beneficial brain changes that happen (even for kids with AD(H)D) when one learns through neurofeedback.  This clearly is a much safer way to access one’s ability to attend, to allow creative flow and to possibly be inspired for the benefit of all of us.  

    • hennorama

      Emerging science about brain development suggests that most people don’t reach full maturity until the age 25.  If this is the case, getting an under-25 college student to choose between the much slower path of neurofeedback methodology versus the nearly instantaneous effect of ingesting amphetamines is largely quixotic, regardless of the efficacy and safety of one choice versus the other.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

    Can we maybe stop telling people what to ingest, and just educate them on the pros and cons of each? I know there are times in college when I could really have used something like this to focus my mind… oh yeah, there was, and it was called *caffeine*. And I used it extensively.

    A small percentage of people who use any kind of psychotropic drug are going to abuse it. Focus rehabilitation and education efforts on those people, and leave the rest of us alone. The entire apparatus set up to prosecute the drug war has meant higher levels of violence and a near-complete abrogation of fourth amendment protections against search and seizure. It has to end somewhere: at some point, we need to decide that failed attempts at prohibition are simply not worth the destruction of our principles.

  • http://www.facebook.com/drpmeade Paul S Meade

    I’m not sure who was speaking @10:54 AM, but anyone who advocates amphetamines as “occasional performance enhancers” (that’s just my interpretation of what they were implying) as they seem to be advocating should have their professional credentials taken away. They are a guilty as the “pain clinics” responsible for the explosion in opiate abuse in this country. It is also the responsibility of the drug companies to develop some sort of methodology to curtail the abuse and overuse of medications with any potential for addiction.

    Of course that’s like asking gun manufacturers to support gun control… but that’s a topic to be discussed at another time. 

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Something that just struck me are the similarities between the signs and symptoms of adult ADD / ADHD and symptoms of Depression. It almost seems as if large numbers of our youth are Clinically Depressed.

    • 1Brett1

      I’ve seen this fact often overlooked by psychiatrists who spend a hot ten minutes talking to a patient then send him/her on his/her way with a diagnosis of ADD. 

      There are myriad reasons why a person might display symptoms that present as similar to ADD. Stress, anxiety, depression, even to a lesser degree organizational skills that were never fully developed enough to become ingrained habits (especially the latter working in conjunction with the aforementioned). 

      I find the prescription of medication to troubling when it isn’t used in conjunction with some behavioral intervention; the problems don’t really get addressed but masked. 

      • DrewInGeorgia

        My life long Creed for Pharmaceuticals:
        I don’t want a pill to make me happy about being unhappy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=147800027 Michael Harrell

    I think framing this as an issue rooted in college kids trying to get completive edge academically is, frankly, a bit naive. I am in my late 20′s, college was not so long ago. Until recently I worked for an organization that did campus outreach. Sure, some of these kids are using these drugs to study. But a lot of them are using them to get high; crushed up and snorted, the effect is similar to cocaine. The girls, under well known societal pressures to maintain an unrealistic standard of ‘beauty’, are using them to lose weight. 

    It sounds like the kids who get into trouble with these drugs are feeding their parents and physicians sob stories about how hard it is to do well in college.   

  • hennorama

    One can attribute a great deal of this Adderall use and abuse to greatly increased competition among college and university students.  A large portion of the increased competition is due to the massive increase in the percentage of high school graduates who go on to further study.

    This ratio of HS grads going on to college has increased from 45% in 1960 to 68% in 2010.


    With more than 2 of every 3 high school graduates going directly to college, it’s obvious that they are more focused on it leading to a career rather than simply learning how to think.  They have been told over and over that this is the path to a better job and a better future.  The pressure to perform has been ratcheted up as a result, and anything that can give one an edge becomes an acceptable means to an end, whether the method is legal or illegal.

    • Gregg Smith

      Or maybe it’s available so they chop it up and snort it for fun. 

    • Coastghost

      Post-secondary remediation I think did not exist to speak of in 1960, but today over 40% of undergraduates enroll in some kind of post-secondary remediation. Id est: you considerably overstate the mind-shattering effects of pernicious competition.

      • hennorama

        Coastghost – TY for your response. I respect your views.

        However, if “today over 40% of undergraduates enroll in some kind of post-secondary remediation,” it means these undergrads and/or their instructors recognize that they are unprepared for post-secondary education.

        This is further evidence that in order to succeed at the post-secondary level, these students need to take extraordinary measures, whether these measures are remediative or stimulative in nature.

        • Coastghost

          Alternatively, it offers evidence that over 40% of undergraduates have no business being enrolled in post-secondary institutions, just as it shows that post-secondary institutions have no good business sponsoring remedial programs themselves. Perhaps if our undergrads spent less time feeling and more time thinking, they would put competitive pressures into proper perspective.

          • hennorama

            Coastghost – TY again for your reply.

            I agree that many undergraduates have “no business in being enrolled in post-secondary institutions.” That was part of my point in showing the massive increase in the percentage of high school graduates who go on to further study. Many would be far better off seeking vocational training rather than higher education. Parental and societal pressures unfortunately tend to push students toward higher education and away from vocational training, often regardless of the student’s abilities or lack thereof.

  • Sara Hart

    Shouldn’t some of the focus be on the effects of our education system? Even as early as Kindergarten, we teach kids ‘what to learn’ and forget to teach them ‘how to learn’. The brain must be trained to learn and we are failing our children by not allowing their brain to develop these skills. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/karl.seidel Karl Seidel

    The assumption that Ritalin or Adderall are actually effective by comments like “of course she really needed it…” is damning. Has anyone read Robert Whitaker’s take on this abuse? The drugs are the problem now. It used to be drugs were a symptom of the problem when referring to street drugs. Now the opposite is true…

    • WardCheney

      Karl, I think about this differently than you seem to do, or at least as you express it right here. It sounds to me that you are saying Ritalin and Adderall are not effective . . . at all . . . 

      Perhaps there’s a thought or two here you left out, or you assumed I’d understand what you mean. Effective at doing what? Automatically changing one’s life for the better? Making a C student into an Einstein? Running the 100 meter in 9.8 seconds? I agree that Ritalin and Adderall are not effective in those examples. At least for me they weren’t. But for me, with a neurological condition I was born with, a Ritalin-like drug does help me with certain everyday activities. I don’t see it all that differently than if I needed a wheelchair, a white cane, or a strong pair of glasses.

      I for one don’t like being prejudged. Some people legitimately need and use such drugs. Some people don’t have a neurological condition, and they get and use it illegitimately. 

      (I posted more about this above.)

  • http://twitter.com/infarmol infarmol

    We need to understand how universities facilitate an environment of drug abuse. As Marc Bousquet points out in his article “Take Your Ritalin and Shut Up,” students are required to have a tunnel focus that precludes self-care and self-development in favor of credentializing themselves and being crushed with debt. 

  • 2Gary2

    Make it legal OTC problem solved.  I fail to see the big deal.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.j.cobia Jennifer Jo Frost Cobia

    What about healthcare professionals beings required to an EEG to show proof of attention problems by the brainwaves themselves during a bonafide medical test, instead of using a self reporting survey that can be easily faked.

    • Sy2502

      EEG is not a good test for ADHD.

  • Dosojosverdes

    I am the mother of two boys, now 18 and 16. They both attended grade school in a swanky area of South Florida. Despite being extremely well behaved in class, their various  teachers told me, from day one, to “medicate” them because it was hard to get enough paperwork from them and they felt that my boys were ADD; meaning, in the teachers opinion, ADHD without the hyperactivity. I struggled with this for years and did not medicate either of them as they always aced the standardized tests at the end of the year, read extensively, and both wrote extremely well. They were never straight A students and homework was a killer some days, but I just could not justify medicating them.

    Eventually, I discovered that out of eleven male friends of my youngest son, then a FOURTH grader, eight were already taking medication for ADHD and had taken it for years. Many well-off American parents cannot resist giving their kids a pill to avoid tantrums over boring, “busy-work” sent home by the pile, or to give their kid the “edge”. I had mothers tell me that if you can make a B student an A student with these medications then, “Hey, it’s a dog eat dog world out there!” The doctors were very happy to oblige as long as you paid for the “tests”.

    I never discovered a mother who had failed to get a prescription for her son once becoming convinced that it would benefit the child. I finally went through the very costly process myself, had both boys tested, but stopped short of buying the medication when I heard about side effects and other problems associated with this type of drug. I was both disgusted and frustrated with the school system and the prevailing parenting values that encouraged such a reliance on medicating for success.

    I am not in the least bit surprised to hear that these students continue to need help in the form of a focus pill when they get to college and then on into their work lives. We have been stuffing these pills down their throats since they were tiny to make sure that they can really compete and to make sure that they do not look out the window when a poorly trained and poorly compensated teacher bores the pants off them with yet more paperwork in grade school.

  • Bibliodrone

    This is an interesting topic for me, an adult “legitimate” Adderall user.

    Beyond health-related concerns, there is still so much moral panic over the issue of adults (18+ in college) choosing to use chemicals on themselves. Of course things are different with children, but I’m talking about adults, here. Why shouldn’t they have a choice? There seems to be an unspoken set of assumptions around “fairness”, and “competitive advantage” which mirrors the controversy over performance-enhancement in sports. And yet, students have always self-medicated with caffeine to focus or alcohol to unwind and socialize comfortably.

    So much of our cultural ethos is rooted in the semi-untrue belief that we live in a meritocratic society. Thus, notions of competition and fairness play a very strong part in our discussions about the “good” vs. “bad” around drugs.

    There are health risks to self-medicating, of course. But the issue there is really one of education. The past 40 years of the “War on Drugs” have shown how useless it is to try to deter the personal use of chemicals by making it a moral or criminal issue.

    Also, I think that the perception of Adderall’s efficacy in normal people is probably inflated. Students believe it’s a great study aid because they hear everyone talking about it that way; peers, doctors, radio hosts. They also hear that its use is widespread. All this talk about it, there must be something to it, right? Or is this an example of the logical fallacy of “social proof”?

    Is there really any good evidence that Adderall even works as a method of significant cognitive enhancement for “neurotypical” people? If someone says they tried it and felt great at first, but after a while it stopped having such an effect, did they become tolerant to it (which isn’t supposed to happen when it is used as prescribed), or was it really more of a placebo effect (which also tends to taper off over time, I’ve read).

  • Bibliodrone

     I have to add, though, that there is no reason parents should be getting pressure from teachers to medicate their children to keep them “under control”. If that’s happening, I can’t think of a better indictment of the industrial mass-production model of education.

    • Dosojosverdes

      Thanks for the thumbs up to ignore teachers who tell you to medicate your kids! My boys were always well behaved in class and did not need to be kept “under control”. However, teachers driven to distraction, with too many kids per class and by the pressure put on them by being judged on the class performance on high stakes testing, will let you know if they think your child needs a pill to help them focus and boost their performance. Every year my boys aced the FCATs (Florida Children Annually Tortured!) and so the teachers need not have worried. However, then the boys started all over again with another paranoid teacher who got right on the “medicate them” bandwagon. It got old really fast!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/MLTYFY4U2AAPP3WA3IZ4ZAKRHY emily

    As a seriously ADD adult, who resisted the siren call of prescription stimulants until age 34, I still have very mixed feelings about them.  

    There is no denying they work.  And for me, that is the addictive quality.  When you are suddenly able to function at a very efficient level, to finish even boring tasks, to read things like IRS publications and not fall asleep, and even understand them, to the extent than any not tax expert can, well…  it’s hard to give that up.  My husband jokes that he is equally addicted to me taking them, and says I can never stop.  

    But there are definite drawbacks.  I feel a lot less need for sleep. I can sleep if I make myself go to bed, but late-night is so productive…

    They are  powerful appetite suppressants, so at first, I lost weight, and thought that was a pretty great side-effect.  But over time, the body adjusts by decreasing metabolism.  Now, when I am not taking the meds, even if I eat well, I gain weight.  

    They also make my heart rate rise more quickly with exercise. I used to be a consistent runner, completing a couple of marathons and running half-marathons pretty regularly.  But I find it very difficult to run after taking the medication, my heart-rate shoots up and I get light-headed.  So I can run early in the morning and take the medication after, run later and take the medication later then not want to sleep (making it harder to run early the next day), go without the medication and be constantly hungry and less able to focus, or just not run. Not running wins much of the time.   

    I honestly can’t imagine having had these drugs in college.  As an architecture student staying up all night, forgetting to eat, living on cheetos and soda or beer was all part of normal life.   The temptation to abuse prescription amphetamines would have been nearly impossible to resist.  We got dangerously little sleep as it was, but eventually the body makes you sleep.  I imagine myself having slept even less, amped up on Adderall, in the woodshop running a big piece of plywood through the tablesaw at 4 am…

    • http://www.facebook.com/shelley.p.garis Shelley Pressley Garis

       Studies have shown that kids who genuinely need ADHD drugs are not the ones who tend to abuse them. It’s the ones who DO NOT need them who abuse them. My son is ADHD and for him, it’s just his medicine that he takes every day and has since he was 5.  He has trouble functioning without it. He has no behavior problems…and typically if parents are using drugs like these to parent..there is a problem as well. But I think the main question here is…are college students who do not NEED these drugs abusing them, not are the one’s who genuinely need them necessarily abusing them. I don’t think that is the case many times at all.

      • Boston_mom

        Thanks Shelley. I fall into that category as well. It’s not even tempting for me to abuse my prescription Adderall. I resisted it for so many years and was very anti-medication to treat ADHD. As an adult, I finally was willing to give it a try when I felt that inattention was creating a driving risk with my young children. I’m on a very low dose and my monthly prescription usually lasts about 5-6 seeks. I actually am more prone to insomnia when I don’t take an afternoon dose, which I only do around half the time. It is a lot like many prescription drugs; it can easily be abused, but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t legitimately help many people. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2213633 Christina Conlin

    What about the use of Adderall amongst women/others to decrease appetite and lose weight? I’ve heard this talked about in hushed/masked conversations. Specifically, one group of young mothers were talking about their mutual friend who never had any ADHD symptoms until after she had a child, and then got a prescription for Adderall from her doctor. Since she began to take it, it was noted that she became skinnier than she had ever been before.

    • harverdphd

      I’ve heard Dick talked about in hushed/masked conversations (whoever he is)

      • Dosojosverdes

        Grow up!

        • harverdphd

           Get a sense of humor, and grow up.

          • Dosojosverdes

            I think you’re in the wrong conversation here. This subject is not in the least funny and your comments are totally out of line. This conversation is for concerned adults. So unless you can control yourself, I suggest you find a lighter hearted, comedy based conversation where others might have a sense of humor about the given subject!

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    i wonder if that 88% includes illicit drugs also. should we ban adderall, for the sake of the children?

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    amphetamines: they are not just for fighterpilots and nazies any more… they are for kids!

  • W H

    Beautiful illustration of the unwitting consequences of money- and drug-focused pharmaceutical companies and doctors.

    • harverdphd

       Yeah…there goes that money again.

  • Dosojosverdes

    In order to clarify my position on this very important issue I would like to add that I do not think ill of those individuals who take meds for real ADHD conditions and I totally understand their need for their prescriptions and the benefits they derive from being able to take drugs such as Adderall. They are, however, a tiny minority of those who use the drugs.

    As stated in my earlier comment, these drugs are pushed on way too many young children in grade school for various misguided reasons and “abused” by all sorts of others for highs, weight loss and obtaining that competitive edge in college and work environments.

    Big Pharm and all the doctors charging for rubber-stamping ADHD testing and the monthly visits for the new prescriptions are laughing all the way to the bank. It is so sad that we are so far off-track with the American educational system, despite all the use of drugs to help keep us focussed!

  • harverdphd

    Uh…what was the question?

  • Sy2502

    Hasn’t something like this been going on for a very long time? Didn’t American housewives use to take cocaine (which used to be legal) to get through their daily chores? When my dad was in college, amphetamines were legal and he used them to study all night for exams. I keep a box of ephedrine based decongestionant in my office (you know, the kind pharmacists keep behind the counter) for those days when I am too tired but need to get work done. 
    We live in a society that puts unnatural demands on us. We have to get up when the alarm rings, not when we have slept enough. We are expected to get incredible amounts of work done (both in and out of the office). Kids have to make grades so they can get to the best college and get the best jobs, and do a lot of extra curricular activities on top of that. 
    No wonder we look for some extra help to keep up with these unrealistic demands. It’s hypocritical of society to put this load of work and pressure on us and then get all uncomfortable about HOW we get it done. 

    • Gregg Smith

      I think it was valium:

      Kids are different today, I hear ev’ry mother say
      Mother needs something today to calm her down
      And though she’s not really ill, there’s a little yellow pill
      She goes running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper
      And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day

      • 1Brett1

        That and black beauties (stress, boredom and weight loss; done and done)…

        (Buying “a frozen cake” can be stressful!) 

    • 1Brett1

      You use ephedrine as a pick-me-up?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ADZ6TZZKHWRLDNAOP6R2MBBP6A Bob S

      Yes, I agree.  It feels like being on a treadmill that keeps going faster and faster.  Anybody in favor of a mandatory 20-hour workweek?  Work less, live more!

      • Tyranipocrit


    • Tyranipocrit

       I meet those demands and I don’t take drugs or make excuses–you live in a society that conditions you to take drugs for profit, to buy guns, to idolize maniacs, and feel good about war.  Don’t listen to doctors who push drugs. Get a second and third opinion.  I know of so many cases where doctors prescribe designer drugs with side-effects for something that aspirin is sufficient for–but aspirin only costs a few bucks–designer drugs cost a fortune.  Designer drugs put money in the bad doctor’s pocket.  Other doctors will tell you–STOP taking it Now. 

      In other countries–like China–they rely more on herbal medicine cultivated over thousands of years, and it is rare even to find aspirin, and no one is complaining of these things, no one is making excuses about study and work and –they have more pressure than Americans but you don’t see them binging on drugs and asking for our understanding.  Most herbal medicines I have taken in China work more efficiently than any chemical drugs I have taken in my lifetime. But it depends on the person and the ailment.  I still need a good powerful pill for sinus headaches.  The point is, we are conditioned to believe in  certain things.  Twenty years ago, people laughed at designer drugs and bottled water–now look at us.  it is the norm.

      America of the Dead.

  • lukejumes

    I found Adderall made a difference for me! I had a troublesome adjustment after highschool. I suffered from depression & hallucinations & would often stay in bed for days without energy to do most anything. I was chronically sleepy & fatigued. I was prescribed Adderall & began to read again, wake up early, get a job & apply to college. Less than a year later I am going to college, writing creatively & am employed in my professional field. It has made the difference.

    • harverdphd

       I felt the same until I had a cup of coffee…glad you feel better

  • lukejumes

    I found Adderall made a difference for me! I had a troublesome adjustment after highschool. I suffered from depression & hallucinations & would often stay in bed for days without energy to do most anything. I was chronically sleepy & fatigued. I was prescribed Adderall & began to read again, wake up early, get a job & apply to college. Less than a year later I am going to college, writing creatively & am employed in my professional field. It has made the difference.

    • 1Brett1

      Hallucinations? Auditory, visual, tactile or olfactory?

      • lukejumes

        All four, it was an undiagnosed form of organic hallucinations.  It was painful & stressful.  It led to a very profound separation from others.  I essentially gave up on my life.  Adderall gave me the potential for life changes & a lot of hope.

        • 1Brett1

          Thanks for replying. I find your description interesting, and unusual, at least in my experience. Were you ever given a diagnosis for what was happening to you? 

          From my experiences and knowledge, I could understand perhaps some mild distortions in tactile or olfactory perceptions from depression and chronic sleep disorders, maybe even some changes  in auditory perception. I’ve never encountered someone with full-blown hallucinations from depression and sleep changes, especially visual hallucinations.

          Thankfully, your suffering seems to have ended and you are on to a productive and realized life! Did the hallucinations subside once you began taking Adderall? If so, was the change immediate, or did those problems subside after being on the medication for a while? 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ADZ6TZZKHWRLDNAOP6R2MBBP6A Bob S


    • harverdphd

       Bob…are you taking your meds?  Don’t lie to us, now.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ADZ6TZZKHWRLDNAOP6R2MBBP6A Bob S

        You got it, harverphd. I forgot my morning dose of Prozac! That’s why everything seemed so bleak today. But now I don’t know if can take my Prozac so close to my Viagra. Damn!

        • Dosojosverdes

          Now go easy Bob S. in case you haven’t been keeping up with harverdphd’s frequent comments, we might have a youngster in our midst and talk of Viagra in front of him might get his parents a tad upset. Now run along to bed harverd, and let the grown-ups talk while you get some much needed shuteye. You’ll feel better in the morning. Night, night little one.

      • Tyranipocrit

         Uh-duh-duh-duh-duh.  sit down.  You are disturbing the adult conversation.  Go get your prescription re-filled, or just call up your buddies in the meth lab.  Or go to bed–its past beddy bye time.  Dont forget to brush your teeth–you know what happened last time you fell asleep with tobacco in your mouth.

  • Allison Fink

    Getting Adderall legitimately is not an easy process.

    • Gregg Smith

      Unfortunately getting it illegitimately is.

    • Tyranipocrit

       Sure it is.  They love to distribute that stuff–they love to label everyone with conditions. 

  • Annie1925

    I am a college professor who teaches history. I can say without hesitation that a pill will not be able to greatly enhance performance in my subject area. Lance Armonstrong, Barry Bonds et al. were ALREADY talented. They did not become great at their sport through drugs, just a little bit better, which was enough for them to put them at the top of their game. Similarly, there is no “smart pill.” While some people may need the drug to focus, and so they will do better than they might otherwise. But most people come to college some level of native ability and training and nothing will change that in any dramatic way, if at all. The perception that you can become an “A” student by taking a pill has no evidence to back it up, and it never will.

    • Gregg Smith

      The pill can’t enhance the performance on the test but it can help you stay up all night and cram after partying all week. I don’t recommend it.

    • del2124

      But that’s because you teach history. If you taught biochemistry or economics this might be a different story. 

      Beyond that though, it’s not “greatly enhance” that matters here; it’s enhance a little bit. And a little bit matters. The difference between and A and and A- is significant and if a pill will get you the higher grade, well, I’d go for the pill, without a question.

      • Tyranipocrit

         Why does teaching “history” make the difference as opposed to “chemistry” or “economics”? (–a religion). 

        It is not the drug that increases performance.  Perhaps, these students should actually study and do the coursework all semester, and then they will not need to rush, and they will have learned the material.  If an assignment is due in one month–they will wait until 24 hours before the due date to begin a project that demands countless hours every day for a month or more.  An then, if it’s a paper–they will plagiarize.  The paper will lack any original thought or analysis.   I imagine, the kids who do better on this drug are clever kids who would do well to focus all semester and prioritize their life and study–they’re all ready clever–the drug, like crack–just keeps them wired long enough to waffle thru a paper in one go.  A less than intelligent student who lacks understanding of the material in the first place will not perform better just because he is on drugs.

        • del2124

          It’s speed. People take speed for the same reason they always have, because it allows them to do a lot of work quickly. This is true whether he’s a good and intelligent student or not. You write “these students should actually study and do the coursework all semester, and then they will not need to rush, and they will have learned the material.” Well sure, but not everyone will do this.

          • Tyranipocrit

             And so there should be NO sympathy for them–they are pathetic and do not deserve good grades.  i don’t understand your conclusion–it’s flat and unremarkable, almost like it had no reason for being.

          • del2124

            Well there no appropriate remarkable conclusions to draw here, that’s because this use of speed in college actually isn’t that remarkable. So people are taking speed to study. Well, actually they always have. There’s no reason to be worried about this.

          • WardCheney

            Tyran, I don’t understand what you are saying. Who is the “them” you are talking about? Every “them” who takes a medication? Every pathetic “them” with a neurological disorder who takes medication? Or are you talking just about having NO sympathy for “them” the people who take pills illegally to get better grades?

            (I give my opinion about broad generalizations above.)

          • Tyranipocrit

            Are we in the same conversation? “Them” is the topic at hand–I think you must be in the fog of our little pills–”them” are the students who take pills to enhance performance.

          • WardCheney

            As I wrote, here and elsewhere in the listener comment area, I get frustrated by the lack of clarity and the broad brush strokes used by so many in the conversation. Who is “them?” Who is “they?” Perhaps being more specific about whom exactly you mean would help.

            I get frustrated when an issue such as this appears to get blown up out of proportion, and “them” (students) who have medically diagnosed conditions and who use authorized medication to help with everyday functioning get lumped in with 
            “them,” students who use meds without a diagnosis, and sell or give away the rest. The danger (to me) is that already, students with prescribed meds are accused of being pushers, under suspicion of selling his or her meds.

            I can’t remember the numbers, but someone said a study showed that a minority of students, those with questionable diagnoses and prescriptions, fuel the supply.

            Reality versus perception does make a difference in terms of conversation, research, and strategies to deal with problems, whether they are truly significant or whether they simply make good headlines.

          • WardCheney

            del, I disagree with something you said here, both specifically and generally. Are you saying ‘all people’ take speed for the same reason, or are you taking just about those who take it to do a lot of work quickly? Sounds like a big generalization to me.

            For people (such as myself) with professionally diagnosed, neurologically-based disorders of attention (not a drive-through assessment) it’s not just about doing a lot more work. It’s a lot of things that depend on the well-functioning brain . . . not just focus, or churning out pages. Attention, or lack thereof, affects time management, sorting, choosing, organization, prioritization, sequencing, and more . . . all of which are needed in spades when one is learning, reading, writing, and test-taking.

            (Refer to my post above for more on this.)

          • del2124

            I made no statements about all people. This piece was specifically about the use of stimulants to study and complete assignments in college. Within college, students use speed for the much same reason they always have.

          • WardCheney

            Thanks for clarifying. I misunderstood what you were saying.

    • WardCheney

      I agree that one cannot “…become an ‘A’ student by taking a pill…” At least not yet.

      You do acknowledge a problem when you say “…most people come to college…” with some sort of native ability and “…nothing will change that in any dramatic way, if at all…” (I tried to add emphasis to “if at all” but could not.)

      Some people do end up in elementary and high school, college, or various jobs not understanding why they do not learn and perform in ways similar to their peers. People may go — and have gone — through their lives undiagnosed, and then end up some place like college, where the demands of coursework exceed their training, their coping skills. This may be particularly true of older students and older workers who grew up in the 1940s and 1950s, when there wasn’t much understanding of neurologically-based disorders of learning. Some of these folks believed the prevailing biases that they were just plain lazy and dumb.

  • harverdphd

     That was the promise of increased productivity…didn’t work out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peggy.schaefer.12 Peggy Schaefer

    major league pitchers take adderall – this is probably why there have been so many no-hitters.

  • Sharon Palmer

    I know plenty of lawyers and investment bankers that use the stuff when they’re closing deals or pulling all nighters.  It doesn’t make you smarter, but makes the pain of working all night less – the idea that this is a problem of only kids in college is ridiculous.

  • Andrew Gruenberger

    A B.A. (not to be confused with most B.S. degrees), is nearly worthless with respect to obtaining meaningful employment that is roughly worth the investment of the education.  As I see it, adderall will help increase the chances of “earning” a better grade as a result of more focused studying and working.  Some people can get by getting less than a 3.0 (and more than a 2.0 in order to graduate).  Graduating means nothing without a reasonable GPA.  Students don’t care about the health risks only the rewards.  Why?  They’re young and invulnerable.  The culture of America for those who go to college is to to get the job and all the materialistic trophies of success.  It’s a dead dream now, and those poor souls who actually had a passion for History (me), and graduated with good grades will either have to do work for free (experience as they call it), or get more loans for graduate education.  It’s the overall pessimistic view of the economy and the job market that creates such immense pressure to get that edge in school.  I never took it, but my brother has been taking it and if he didn’t have it, he would have flunked out of med school by now.  I have no issues focusing.  Oh and don’t comment on how I studied history and expected a job.  I am now working on a M.S. in IT (because I also studied a bunch of comp sci while I studied what I love).

    Anyways, no biggie.  No one cares about the negative health factors when they take it.  Rather, MAJORITY do not care.  The youthful mindset has a way of removing the “risky” from risky activities.

  • PatrickBehnke

    I was a student at the University of Michigan who was prescribed Adderall while still a student for reasons unrelated to my focusing in class.   I can wholeheartedly testify to the existence of a strong desire to abuse the drug once I began noticing the effect it had on efficiency and capabilities of my studying.
    What led me to stop taking the drug and what has not been mentioned on your program is the emotional agony of the crashes that occured in me as the Adderall was subsiding.  These moments were extremely uncomfortable.

  • http://www.facebook.com/teri.lund.7 Teri Lund

    I am a nurse practitioner who worked on a college campus for about 10 yrs. I have a client who was legitimately diagnosed with ADHD when she was a student about 10 yrs ago. She has graduated and followed me to a new private practice in the same college community and I have continued to prescribe Adderall for her since I knew her history. She is seasonally employed and indicates that she continues to rely on it to stay focused in her life. I now realize that I need to encourage her to be re-evaluated by a mental health professional before I continue to prescribe this for her. Thanks for the eye-opening program!

  • Tyranipocrit

    1–there is NO such thing as ADHD

    2–i cant help feeling this program is really just trying to plug these pills.  At least by some of the guests.  is Big Pharm sponsoring NPR–at any level?

    3–these students are pathetic and not worth their salt.  they dont deserve theri degree or the privilige of a higher education–or a high paying job.  And what is the obsession with these high-paying jobs–that to me sounds like a job with a corporate meplyer guilty for most of ills in society and the world.  I question the ethics of these students.  Where is the love of learning for sake of learnign and building a better society–to search to serve to learn?  Why is money and competition so much a priority in their lives?  these are not people i want to be near.

    • Paul LeFebvre

      Do you have a PhD? Do you know about the complexity of Brain Chemistry? Where do you get off telling students that they are pathetic. You have no idea of anyone’s situation.

      Adderall is the only medication that controls my hyperactivity, well enough so i can sit still in a class room. Without this medicine I would not be able to get a college degree.

      • Tyranipocrit

         I doubt that very much Mr. Chemist.  Yes, I do have  a doctorate.  I get off telling people they are pathetic when they are pathetic–Big Pharma convinces people they need drugs–they are drug pushers–no different then crack.  Crack is illegal because they haven’t found a way to make money  selling it in a legitimate way–people would not accept it–so they come up with “conditions”. You are not to be blamed for this–as a victim of the placebo affect.  People will believe anything they want to hear from so-called ‘legitimate’ sources.  And I was talking about these students who take pills to “perform better”.  I do know the complexity of brain chemistry–do you think corporations do just because they design drugs to make money–to make money–to make money–profit–not your welfare–designer drugs are pushed on you.  Do you think the FDA knows anything about brain chemistry?  They are suits,  corporations–its a revolving door.  If there is a need for brain altering designer drugs to balance brain chemistry, it is not necessary for most of the people taking it who think they need it. 

        Listen to yourself–without drugs, you can’t get a college degree.  That’s pathetic. Most students do not belong in a classroom anyway–university is a business run by suits–marketing teams–it is a factory.  Most students belong in vocational school, on farms, in forests, on ships–sorry, but it is true–and vocations are honorable professions.  Vocations are actually where the money is to be had–start your own business.  Society can’t really function without them.  You don’t have to be a scholar if it’s not suited for you.  Universities should be about learning for the sake of learning–our representative should come from scholars–not business men and shills bought-n-paid for by the industry you are building with your nervous twitch.  Get a breath of fresh air, drink more water, get some exercise, meditate, swim, take a hike in nature–rest.  Don’t spend so much time at frat parties.  You don’t need pills. 

        • http://www.facebook.com/karl.seidel Karl Seidel

          Documented proof: 
          A. Lack of stimulants’ long-term efficacy as a treatment for ADHD 1. NIMH collaborative multisite multimodal treatment study of ADHD. Richters, J.Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 34 (1995):987-1000. In the 1990s, the NIMH mounted a long-term study of ADHD treatments. As it did so, researchers acknowledged that the “long-term efficacy of stimulant medication has not been demonstrated for any domain of child functioning.” The MTA trial would be the “first major clinical trial” that the NIMH had ever conducted of a “childhood mental disorder.” 2. 3-year followup of the NIMH MTA Study. Jensen, P. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 46 (2007):989-1002. At the end of 14 months, core ADHD symptoms were reduced more in the children treated with stimulants than with behavioral therapy. However, at the end of three years, “medication use was a significant marker not of beneficial outcome, but of deterioration. That is, participants using medication in the 24-to-36 month period actually showed increased symptomatology during that interval relative to those  not taking medication.” 3. Mta at 8 years. Molina, B. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 48 (2009):484-500. At the end of six years, medication use was “associated with worse hyperactivity-impulsivity and oppositional defiant disorder symptoms,” and with greater “overall functional impairment.”

    • Dosojosverdes

      This student cannot spell, nor can he/she use basic English grammar correctly. However, the student does stick to his/her opinion fiercely and makes an attempt to develop their side of the argument. Grade C- (unless, of course it is just a leg-pull, in which case it deserves an F.) 

      Recommended – Remedial English Language Class and The Importance of Spell Check 101.

      • Tyranipocrit

         uh-duh-duh-duh-duh–is that really the best argument you can come up with?  You respond by attacking typos.  That is deflection.  And shows how anal you can be.  And then you actually took the time to comment on it when you had nothing to say.  And then to congratulate yourself on your remarkable typing capabilities–clap, clap, clap–you really are special.  And guess what–your friends aren’t telling you this–but, you are not funny.  This is a comment section on a promotional show for designer drugs.  I don’t care that much if my typos are checked.  I have things to do.  I have a tiny keyboard and cold hands.  My spell check doesn’t work.  I type fast.  I didn’t know this was for a grade.  I forgot to take my pills.  Did you know that spelling is arbitrary and creative people don’t feel the need to be so pedantic?  Did you know that American spelling is not the same as British spelling and it was changed simply to be non-British?–quite childish.  You successfully diverted a real conversation–congratulations on being meaningless.  You get an A+ because your daddy knows important people.

        Let me know if I spelled anything wrong–it is really really important to me.  I tried very hard to impress you this time.  Tyme.  Thyme.  Thai’m. T/aI/m.  

        • Dosojosverdes

          I hate to be the one to break it to you but, a tiny minority of extremely creative individuals, with really amazing, breakthrough things to say can get away with breaking spelling and grammar rules. Think e.e. cummunings and James Joyce here and you’ll get the picture. Shel Silverstein and Prelutsky, they both had that special something too.


          I am not one of these remarkable artists and at this point I think, neither are you. So, if you want to be taken seriously in a conversation, then get with the program.

          When you write (type in this case) you need to follow basic rules to help the reader (remember, the other/others in the conversation?) follow what you are saying. If you want to be lazy and hide behind your own fictional “creativity” by not following the guidelines, then you turn away the potential audience that you are so busily typing too. You are, in this case, basically giving them the finger (your ego) and you are left blowing wind up your own…..Hey why bother?

          It is a free country, so you get to choose whether to keep on typing in public as if you are proud to show up to work clad only in you undershorts, or by acting as someone who understands that the world does not just revolve around them and therefore could have something substantial to add to the public debate.(Remember the original debate?)

          By the way, thank you for the insight regarding the differences between British and American spelling. As a person holding dual-nationality (UK and USA) I found it quite sweet and touching that you recognized that there are at least two similar,yet different, sets of rules for the English language. Pick one and work with it buddy, because we don’t all get to make up our own. To allow everyone that amount of artistic freedom results in a conversation acceptable only in Bedlam.(Google it!) 

          It has been fun, but I have bigger fish to fry. I wonder if that is originally a British or American idiom? Adieu.

          • Tyranipocrit

            I stopped reading. Get a life.

  • 108Ann_Purcell108

    Research on Transcendental Meditation has shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of ADHD according to a study in Mind & Brain, The Journal of Psychiatry (Vol 2, No 1). The study also shows improved brain functioning. Many other peer-reviewed studies show improved memory, increased creativity, improved academic performances, improved college grades, and development of intelligence. 
    We don’t know the long term side-effects of Adderall. Wouldn’t it be better to meditate than medicate!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/karl.seidel Karl Seidel

    Is it worth it? What are the long-term effects on your liver? On your brain? On your life and relationships with people? Sure, I’d like to think there’s a magic pill to improve my life but am I willing to risk my health with untested, poorly documented legal drugs? Here’s a guy who’s done an independent study on the subject: http://robertwhitaker.org/robertwhitaker.org/Children.html

    Basically this is an epidemic by definition. These drug users are unwilling to take responsibility for what is happening in their lives. And whether these are the legal or illegal variety of drugs they will have an adverse effect on lives. 

    Don’t kid yourself – big Pharma is laughing and running all the way to the bank! Dr.’s are too arrogant to just say “I don’t know” but this may not be the best way to address what ails you. If you’re a Dr. and you want to puff yourself up by saying “I know” you’ll prescribe these drugs – because you don’t know. You probably don’t know much but you’ve got to pay your bills so you say I know – here’s a drug. 

    ADD & ADHD are AMA-ese for I don’t know. The won’t admit they don’t know. But drugs are a convenient way to say here’s something to do about your perceived problem.

    I don’t need to be a Dr. to see this epidemic is caused by greed disguised as Big Pharma addressing a perceived need, a gap in the marketplace they can fill. Very dangerous.

    This is a sad story and commentary on the lives of these students who will forever play the role of the afflicted in the hopes they’ll find the magic pill. 

    Time to grow up and take responsibility for their behavior – without the drugs – prescribed by Dr.’s or not!

    • Andrew Gruenberger

      Karl, you raise some interesting points.  But I think you’re forgetting to address the bigger picture.  If you think college students care about their health with respect to drugs and alcohol, then you would be mistaken.  The culture of the “modern” higher education system is to always get the competitive edge.  The college student’s mindset is that of experimentation and their own physical resilience to substances (namely alcohol!).  The reason the program had a college student on the program was to figure out why students were so widely abusing Adderall.  Students can not graduate with a mediocre GPA and expect to earn a job relatively similar in salary to the cost of their education.  In generations past, I dare say it was easier to obtain a decent-paying job with any Bachelor’s degree.  Being a student is about living in the now.  The future is grim once the student is outside of their college microcosm.  Anyways, Adderall is not a crutch, it’s the competitive edge.

      • http://www.facebook.com/karl.seidel Karl Seidel

        Thanks for your comment Andrew Gruenberger. I’m not sure I know what the “bigger picture” is that you’re referring to. Drug use is an individual subjective experience. No one, not the doctors, not the AMA, not Big Pharma, not the FDA will dispute the harm and side effects of any drug use. The student used might as well have been a shill as for any other purpose – what is she – Little Red Riding Hood – doesn’t know and wants to investigate – Oh my is that the Big Red Wolf coming down the road?! Any drug use takes you outside of your potential – good or bad for the moment – that’s not my point. In the “big picture” that I see there is more “legitimate” diagnosis by more “legitimate” doctors legitimized by big universities bought and paid for by Big Pharma…that’s the big picture! Are you saying there are zero consequences to taking drugs? “…not a crutch, it’s the competitive edge.” I don’t agree. It’s a short-term poorly conceived solution most long-term users don’t recover from. My point is you/me/they don’t need the drugs. Read Whitaker – get informed…and finally, it’s your tax dollars at work!

    • WardCheney

      Karl, regarding the last paragraph in your post, addressing medication use . . . 

      Can you help me out here? I looked for the two quotes referred to, but could not find them in the 2009 paper cited in No. 3.

      • http://www.facebook.com/karl.seidel Karl Seidel

        Thanks for reading and commenting WardCheney…Read Robert Whitaker – Anatomy of an Epidemic…I’m just a bystander. I don’t know anything. This guy tells a story that needs to be acknowledged. Although I’m certain Whitaker has been marginalized just as Heather Ashton & other people who don’t tout the AMA & Big Pharma party line.

  • WardCheney

    I listened to this show last night. More times than I like my patience wore thin. Like previous On Point discussions dealing with medical intervention and ADD/ADHD, laziness, distractibility, hyper-curiosity. . . whatever one chooses to call or label it . . . I tire of the self-appointed experts and armchair quarterbacks who think they know best for those of us who have real (and medically authenticated) neurological disorders of learning and attention.
    I’m not sure what I can say to those whose minds are already made up about the moral failings of those who use medication as one layer of a multi-layered treatment for attention disorders. My concern is that no matter how much Tom and his guests try to draw a line between those who have a diagnosed neurological disorder and the opportunists/dopers/pushers, the innocents will be lashed with the guilty. Riled-up crowds being what they can be, everyone — sufferer and Lance Armstrong-wannabe test-taker alike — will be lumped together and judged harshly. Just as those with red skin and black skin were (and are) shoved aside and prejudged — and much, much worse, of course — what treatment awaits a ten-year-old kid with a legitimate diagnosis who happens to take a medication such as Adderall? ‘OMG, did you hear Johnny takes SPEED?!’
    How does the casual observer tell the difference between a ten-year-old with a proper diagnosis taking a properly prescribed drug and a ten-year-old whose parents slipped him a little pill, fearing a B rather than an A on the next test? History is full of examples of people prejudging a situation, believing in there own moral righteousness, and striking the match that burns the witch, the blasphemer, the mental reject at the stake.For those who think they know who is right and who is wrong when it comes to medication for neurological disorders, I hope they will take a few minutes to re-evaluate their positions. May they pause for a moment before they call in to the next radio show, before they write the editor or stand up at the school committee meeting to berate the cheats and the liars. Too frequently there is someone who wants to bang a desk with a fist, and to hell with what it does to the kid who is lost in class and suffering.If I may speak from experience on one thing . . . even someone with legitimate, life-affecting neurological disorders needs to ask him- or herself, “Whose life am I living, anyway?” Taking a drug just to get ahead, to be like the crowd, won’t get you what you want. You’ll just be another hamster spinning in it’s cage.

    • doctorlorenzo

      Dig the self-righteous attitude… but nobody is denying that ADD exists. You need to back up and acknowledge that there is indeed a big problem related to the casual distribution of these meds among the undiagnosed.  You lose credibility when you refuse to recognize those parts of the picture that don’t apply to you personally.

      PS- I, as a prescriber, also speak from experience.

      • WardCheney

        By all means, if something I’m saying is incorrect or self-righteous, it’s fair to point that out. “Dig the self-righteous attitude” doesn’t clarify things for me . . . please be more specific, and I promise you I’ll take a good, close look at what you say.

        As for “nobody is denying that ADD exists,” I disagree wholeheartedly. I’ve heard and read comments here where people say directly that they believe there is no such thing as ADD.

        If you hear something in my voice, perhaps it is not self-righteousness but rather a certain defensiveness gained over the years when I’ve been accused ignorantly or unjustly of being dumb and lazy in school and college.

        • doctorlorenzo

          I hear what you’re saying, and I apologize for sounding judgmental. And I stand corrected: I know that there are those who deny that ADD exists, but I dismiss their perspective outright, as they are ignorant.
          My response to your comments was rooted in my sense that there was a lack of acknowledgement of the problem of INAPPROPRIATE use of the medications as discussed in the article. So, although I (as a prescriber) maintain that something must be done about this problem, I recognize that those who truly suffer from the condition should not be vilified.
          So, I suspect we agree on most points.


          • WardCheney

            In from the snowstorm, and I appreciate reading your response. Yes, it appears we can agree on many, if not most, points. Perhaps I did handicap myself by not knowing how many students actually do abuse drugs intended for other people and other uses.

            A link to an article written by one of the guests, (see “Tom’s Reading List”) declares that, “On campus, it’s [Adderall] as common as a tissue.” I don’t doubt that someone who wants to get a pill to assist with studying can find one. But as common as a tissue?

            I find it difficult to know what the real numbers are. I imagine that even professionals whose job it is to dig into such numbers are challenged to quantify illicit use.

  • TJtruthandjustice

    Adderall is speed. Just about everybody feels better on speed. Speed is very addictive. I was diagnosed with ADHD through “expert” evaluation from one of the nation’s preeminent centers devoted to ADHD diagnosis and treatment. An “expert” psychiatrist wrote me a prescription for Adderall. I got hooked on speed. And just like any other addictive drug, I had to kick this stuff. Psychiatry seems to me to be a profession dedicated to providing a pill for every ill: overly simple, one-dimensional solutions to complex, multifaceted problems. It just ain’t that easy, folks.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/UTAZSZWJJEUM73XAF3555U3QZU recycleguy

      Adderall and similar are NOT ADDICTIVE at all.
      People go on and off it all the time.
      How are those kids getting “extra” pills from the supposed drug addicts with legal prescriptions ?  What drug addict gives away their meds ?   Bogus claim.

      • TJtruthandjustice

        Do you even know what Adderall is? Adderall is a combination of four different amphetamine salts. Amphetamines are highly addictive.  Adderall is classified as a Schedule II drug because it has a “high abuse potential.”  Get your facts straight.

  • shmoozini

    What’s striking about much of this commentary is the amount of ignorance being offered as factual information–even if well-intended as enlightenment.

  • BogusDisorders

    ADD/ADHD, PANDAS and learning disabilities are not real.  There is no scientific evidence to prove such “disorders” exist.  Giving precious children amphetamines and other dangerous antipsychotic drugs is wrong.  Absolutely morally wrong. There are behavior methods to help children.  Look up http://www.drdavestein.com and you will find the truth and get the help you need for your kids and/or yourself.  I speak from experience.  I too was convinced these were legitamate disorders and that drugs were needed.  I no longer need to poison my kids with vicious drugs and they are now successful in school because their bad behaviors have disappeared thanks for Dr. Stein’s program.  I am very angry at the doctors and the insurance companies who are making money off of hurting our children.  Read Unraveling the ADD/ADHD Fiasco:Successful Parenting w/o Drugs or Stop Medicating, Start Parenting:Real Solutions for your Problem Teenager.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/UTAZSZWJJEUM73XAF3555U3QZU recycleguy

      Insurance companies are making money from paying for drugs ?   Get real.   

      Glad something else worked for you, but many parents try to avoid the meds, try everything else and RELUCTANTLY try the meds to find it’s the only thing that really worked.  Consider  yourself lucky and don’t preach.

  • doug

    What is the parent’s role misdiagnosing ADHD?  I have heard from my high school children that some parents are complicit.  They, too, know the advantages of adderall.  Is this wide-spread?  

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/2PQALQWQC4JO3MZ73OAU4IQTPE yahoo-2PQALQWQC4JO3MZ73OAU4IQTPE

    I question the quality of the knowledge acquired while on these stimulant drugs. Do students really remember what the learned while studying on these drugs?  There is remembering and there is cognitively remembering.   After saying that, it’s one thing to cognitively remember something over a couple or weeks,…but what about over several months (especially if the drug is used in repeatedly in different subjects)?   We need a thorough study on this topic.

    My experience is that brain-stuffed students don’t make good workers.   They may come with big diplomas and high grades but in a real workplace where they need to use high cognitive skills that comes from tying-up all the acquired knowledge from schools, these students are simply not effective nor productive.   I can talk about the IT industry because it’s mine.  These brain-stuffed students can’t innovate, they don’t add value to their company, especially if they work in the IT industry.   They can’t produce enough value for the high salary their diploma commands.   Soon these brain-stuffed students become excess baggage for their company and will be let go on the next budget cut round.

  • hennorama

    Before completely leaving this topic, I want to thank all those who have shared their personal stories about Adderall use.  These anecdotes have shed a great deal of light on the topic.  Thanks so much.

  • Seth Avakian

    I use Dextroaphetamine (basically adderall) 1 or 2 X per week, and some weeks not at all. If I didn’t I don’t think I would be on track to finish my dissertation this year…and I probably would not have passed my comps. If someone finds they can be more productive and focus better with the use of a drug, and they can avoid abuse, why shouldn’t they? 

  • Janice Ephraim

    Excellent story.  The most disappointing thing for me is the lack of ethics in the college setting.   Certainly, there are students who need this drug to function “normally”.   However, those who fake ADHD and those who buy on the black market are seeking an unfair advantage over non-users.   How can we condemn Lance Armstrong for doping when so many are “doping” in the classroom?   Is it time to drug test our students?  I hope it doesn’t come to that!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ADZ6TZZKHWRLDNAOP6R2MBBP6A Bob S

    We live in a “winner-takes-all” society driven by competition and greed.  We have an economy where 50% of those who graduated from college in the past four years still don’t have jobs and the real wages of those lucky enough to have a job are falling. It should not be any surprise if young people use whatever means necessary to get ahead of the “competition”. That is the American way.  That is how capitalism works.

  • Cabanator

    Tom, I have to admit that I was disappointed by this conversation. It focused only on anecdotes rather than medical or scientific evidence. As an adult recently diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed Adderall, I find these assertions of it being some sort of super drug rather incredulous. My personal experience with the drug is that its effect is rather mild (at normal doses); a cup of coffee feels stronger. While stimulants do affect people in varying ways, I find it hard to believe that students are experiencing such dramatic effects unless they are taking extremely high doses or are snorting it. In no part of the conversation did you mention dosing or mechanism of ingestion, which is critical in terms of understanding these supposed miraculous claims. Your guests made it seem like students are buying a pill or two off of their friends and taking a normal-sized dose. Also, Ritalin is a similar drug prescribed for ADHD, and yet it was not mentioned at all in this discussion. Are students abusing this drug as well? If not, why not? 

    Even more ironically, the behaviors reported by these students using the drug as a study aid are the exact same behaviors that ADHD patients are trying to curb. ADHD is partly characterized by low levels of dopamine in the brain, causing patients to be chronically under-stimulated. As a result, they have an especially difficult time focusing on life’s daily tasks, and instead jump constantly from one task to another or seek out hyper-stimulators like addictive drugs, extreme sports, sex, etc. One of the reasons that patients with ADHD tend to be such intense procrastinators is because they require the adrenaline-rush of a looming deadline to substitute for the motivation that normal levels of dopamine would provide. I started taking Adderall to  help me maintain stable levels of motivation without having to drive myself into “crisis mode” in order to be productive. It sounds to me like all these “normal” students are using Adderall to procrastinate and pull all-nighters. It is probably the same adrenaline rush of the looming test or deadline motivating them to be productive, not the Adderall. Similarly, the act of taking a pill that is supposed to help you focus, and saying to yourself, “now I will focus on this task,” could very well be stronger than the medicine itself.

    I don’t believe for a second that Adderall is some sort of academic PED (performance enhancing drug) that will magically boost student performance. I think there is a very strong placebo effect going on here, and I would like to see some scientific studies on this before we start assuming that Adderall can help students dramatically improve performance. Tom, I hope you will re-visit this subject in the future and look at it from a scientific, rather than anecdotal, perspective. 

  • dvmmum

    Interesting questions have been raised in the podcast but, like other commenters, I want to know how Adderall use effects the actual quality of learning.  The “specialists” were talking about attitudes and perceptions.  We want facts! Do we want our future brain surgeon to have learned his anatomy on this stuff or not?

    I am a Biology professor and I feel that changing work expectations is another piece of this puzzle.  There was a lot of finger pointing at Big Pharma and family physicians but honestly, how many drug use epidemics have been resolved by getting control over that end of the pipeline?  As word processing and internet research have become the norm, academic expectations for volume of material seem to have risen. It’s the same at work.  The travel office and secretary pool are long gone while everyone just keeps churning out work product. When professors reward those who memorize great volumes of information or produce long papers with lots of footnotes, we are creating demand for performance enhancers.  Maybe it is time to say, “know this concept well, understand its real significance and how to reason creatively with it and you will get your A.” 

  • Teach203

    I realize there is a lengthy discussion that precedes my comment but…

    I’m 25, pursuing a M.A. in Education (teacher).

    I have taken Adderall illegally for the past 7 years, with maybe a year off from 22-23.  Now that I’m back in grad school, I take it.  I don’t suspect I’ll take it forever, but I wouldn’t mind taking it once or twice a month for the rest of my life.  

    From my experience, it was very common in college.  Students who binge drink and smoke pot are far more likely to abuse Adderall.  
    On the other end of the spectrum, competitive business students and GPA-obsessors were also likely to use Adderall.

    I could probably complete my grad school workload without Adderall, but sometimes you have to read boring things or write silly papers.  When I’m interested or inspired by something, I don’t use Adderall.  Many times in college, you’re taking introductory classes or required classes (or lousy professors) that aren’t too inspiring.  When I take Adderall, I suddenly find these asinine readings interesting, almost enjoyable.  

    For those of you cursing Adderall: do you use caffeine?  You’re probably addicted to that drug, but society deems that one OK and others ones BAD.  

    Also, my go to is 5mg, which lasts me all day.  I buy a 10mg for $4.  For you mathematicians out there, that’s $2 for a day of focus.  A coffee at Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks in $2.39?  Messed up!

    Tip for Adderall abusers like myself: lower your dosage!  I used to take 20mg XRs in college…WOW.  Then I bumped down to 10mg quick release so I could sleep…I used to crash on those, I’d be unable to talk or feel emotions to a certain degree…5mg is great, I’m talkative, alert, and able to sleep at the drop of a hat.  Cheaper too!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/UTAZSZWJJEUM73XAF3555U3QZU recycleguy

    Listened to the podcast of this story.  You had a caller that stated the rigorous evaluation he was given by his doctor before getting a prescription for ADHD/ADD meds.  Your response, Tom, was to explain the contradictory story away as an exception and stated that somehow this caller found the rare doctor that does a thorough evaluation.  Where did you get that ?   Seems like “all the news that fits the print” if you ask me.

    I have children, one of whom was diagnosed with ADD/ADHD,and after an even more thorough evaluation than described on this show, including solicitation of feedback from his school teachers, only then did my son get a prescription.   This was a kid who could not sit still in school, got into trouble all the time and could not concentrate.  Nothing else worked but this prescription, and it was no wonder drug. We had to try various meds and dosages in a scientific manner to find a regimen, with frequent help from doctors/nurses, that helped my son.  
    His life was spriraling out of control, alienating students and teachers with his behavior, bad grades etc.   After getting this
    problem addressed, he now functions normally.  I say “normally” since again, it’s not a wonder drug.  He is not a straight A student just because he is on the drug, but he is doing better socially and academically.  He continues to visit a doctor regularly, one who monitors his eating, sleeping habits, and seems genuinely concerned about his health.

    Also note that most college students live in dorms where there are distractions late into the night, and lack of sleep is probably the primary factor in making kids need energy to study. If you want to solve the problem, enforce lights out in some if not all dorms, so students get proper sleep.  I do not appreciate your solution discussed, to make it difficult for diagnosed kids to get what they need, because others are irresponsible, leave homework to the last minute, don’t sleep, and knowingly break the rules taking meds prescribed to someone else (or lying to docs to get the meds).  

    I’ll bet every person on every episode of your show has driven their car above the speed limit. They all know they are breaking the law, and justify it since others do it, and “they are in a rush”.  Should we ban cars, sale of gas, rationing of gas, since others violate the speed limit ?   Why do you want to make it difficult for my son, who has a legit need, so others cheating can be stopped ?   People need to be responsible for themselves. If enough OD, word will get around and people will stop.

    Fact is, you found it funny that some found this less dangerous than cigarette smoking.  And you think that’s not true ?Never heard of anyone getting cancer from Adderall.

    Also, the comments that this is addictive, is proven scientifically false. In fact, the whole basis for distribution to those without prescriptions, was supposedly due to those who have extra unused pills. Tell me of an addictive drug where the addict has extra that they do not need ?

    This is the worst piece of “journalism” I have heard that was able to get onto public radio.  Crass commercialism on public radio, never thought I would see the day.

  • http://www.facebook.com/yadier.manzanares Yadier Manzanares


    First time I heard of Adderall when my friend moved away for college and came back a year later talking about it. I decided to do a little survey about it just to see how much it actually helps. 

    Please take my survey at survey monkey, totally anonymous and only has 10 questions,
    Survey is only meant for those who have taken stimulants for academic purposes, ADHD or not.

    Click link to visit survey:

    Thank you very much

  • TheDubsya

    I’ve tried Adderall after being diagnosed with adult onset ADD, couldn’t stand it. What I imagined being on crack was like. This was at a UC, studying Arabic and Chinese, logic, philosophy and tech management. Then I was prescribed Modafinil, which was much better, but still had that cracky feeling, my inner ear spasms whenever I’m on it and I have to constantly remind myself to eat and drink water (I’m already skinny enough as is). So I decided to go with the natural route (not even the Racetams) – but I do get work done, even if it’s hard to fall asleep at the end of the day. I looked up some all natural stacks and they definitely work. I’ve actually come up with two teas, with a stack and yerba mate or ginseng base. Definitely works – I’m clear headed, focused and productive. It’s gotten to the point where I can actually meditate again. I’ve starting to sell the stuff if anyone’s interested: signup.moornztea.com. (Yea, the name NZTea – hey, I loved the movie, what can I say)

Sep 1, 2014
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