Adderall usage on the rise

Roughly 45 percent of Quinnipiac students surveyed claim to have used Adderall

By on May 2, 2017
IMG_1831Erin Kane | The Quinnipiac Chronicle

By: Ashley Nally-Nagel and Drew Johnson

Juggling assignments crammed in at the end of the semester can lead to high stress levels among students as they plunge into finals week.

“There’s different peaks of times in the academic year that students become more stressed,” Director of Health and Wellness Kerry Patton said. “Some of those are around final exams or midterm exams.”

According to a survey of over 250 undergraduate students conducted by The Chronicle, 73.4 percent of students rated their stress around finals as eight or higher, 10 being the highest rate of stress.

“We have counseling services here at Quinnipiac,” Patton said. “Students have an easy way to access counseling.”

With finals week comes a boatload of studying and late nights, making drugs like Adderall popular among college students. Adderall, and similar drugs, like Vyvanse, are often prescribed to treat individuals with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. It can come in the form of either instant release and extended release, according to DrugAbuse.gov

Adderall contains a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, according to drugs.com. These amphetamines are central nervous system stimulants that affect chemicals in the brain.

“We have some students that are prescribed Adderall or different stimulants,” Patton said. “There’s kind of a big term they call a ‘study drug’ for different stimulants.”

Nearly 45 percent of those surveyed admitted to using Adderall or a similar drug. However, only 19.1 percent claimed to have a prescription.

Even students who are prescribed Adderall are a bit skeptical about it.

“They brand it as something that can help college students,” Stone said. “It’s not shown to be as harmful as it really can be to its users.”

Sophomore sociology major Dana Hammerle also has a prescription for Adderall.

“It helped a lot in high school,” Hammerle said, though she hasn’t found the effects to be as beneficial in college.

“Usually when I don’t take my medication I’m non-stop, but when I take it, it kind of slows me down,” she said.

Hammerle also mentioned that when she takes Adderall, she finds it hard to eat and to fall asleep at night. Other side effects of the stimulant include shortness of breath and a rapid heartbeat, according to Patton.

Adderall can produce many unwanted symptoms including trouble sleeping, feelings of depression, irritability and potentially dangerous cardiac issues, according to DrugAbuse.gov

“Thankfully, if someone has a reaction to something, what’s nice is we do have our health centers open 24 hours a day,” said Patton.

According to the survey, the most popular use for the drug is as a study aid, followed by day-to-day activities such as doing laundry or going to the gym. 5.5 percent of students surveyed said Adderall is useful for partying and getting high.

“I think sometimes students are using it just to stay awake to study. That’s why it’s used as a study aid,” Patton said. “Initially students who are unprescribed may feel (Adderall) is helping them, but in the long term it’s not.”

The fact remains that college students find the drug to be a helpful study aid, especially during times where they have to get more work done than usual. Out of the students surveyed who admitted to using Adderall, nearly 55 percent claimed to only use it on occasion.

Though most of the students surveyed have never taken Adderall or other stimulants, the majority of those who have taken the drug do not have a prescription.

“I think if someone has a true diagnosis that would benefit from the stimulant it could really help them actually manage their stress,” Patton said. “But I think, as (The Chronicle’s) statistics state, there is about 50 percent or so that haven’t been seen by a doctor.”

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