The Appeal of the Steroid Drug
Adderall has become a tool to boost individuals during academically challenging periods. Adderall’s use as a stimulant has increased due to the pressures of the academic and young adulthood. Although some may say that Adderall abuse is uncommon, the popularity of the drug is high because of the competitiveness placed on students and how they push students to find relief. Taking a closer look as to what contributes to Adderall’s popularity could lead us to a solution for its abuse.
What are the circumstances that cause Adderall to be so prevalent among college students? The pressures of the education system and the hectic nature of higher education are the prime factors in fueling the desperation for this academic steroid. This is especially true for undergraduate students. Due to the tight scheduling of semesters in college, there is less room for error when compared to high school. High school semesters are typically 90 days and it is mostly guaranteed to meet the core classes every school day. College semesters last from 12 to 15 weeks and core classes meet at least twice a week. The classes are longer to somewhat compensate for this substantial decrease in time but it still pales in comparison. What if an emergency prevents you from attending a class for that week? The high school student has four other days of the week to make up work and catch up with the rest of the class. The college student has one other class for the week and will have to work around their own schedule and the professor’s schedule if they wish to receive direct assistance. The academic steroid seems appealing for those tackling the work they have missed in addition to the other occupations of the week such as work or internships to pay for these missed classes. Exams are also treated similarly in both institutions. However, college students do not have nearly the same amount of time to prepare for midterms and finals. In addition to this, the heavy depth of some of these classes like organic chemistry requires most time to be dedicated to studying for these exams. This could mean that there are only two exams that represent the entire course. Again, Adderall seems very appealing to the college student who is anxious about the first exam of the course. Adderall is so popular among college students because they are facing the same expectations/greater expectations of high school but with less room for error. In this way colleges are combing student population for exemplary individuals while exhausting the self-esteem of the rest.
Now imagine being in this situation as a different individual. You are a scholarly athlete in highschool who has been balancing the pigskin and the textbook. In addition to those stresses, you set your eyes on a Ph.D. It seems you can easily alleviate these stresses by taking this Adderall drug that your friends have been talking about. It is only a tiny pill, surely it can’t be harmful. Richard Fee certainly did not think of any danger.
Richard Fee was on a path to success and seemed to have great potential. He was intelligent and athletic, earned a full scholarship to college and had his sights on medical school.But after returning home to live with his family in Virginia after college in 2009, his parents say they learned he had become addicted to prescription medications used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a condition his parents say he never had.
Richard’s story, profiled in Sunday’s New York Times, shows a 24-year-old man who continually lied to doctors to abuse Adderall and Vyvanse, another medication used for ADHD symptoms, ultimately suffering a psychiatric breakdown that hospitalized him for a week. In November 2011, he hanged himself in a bedroom closet. Richard’s parents, Rick and Kathy Fee, appeared on TODAY Thursday, describing how hard it was to watch their son suffer with addiction. After low scores on the medical college admissions test, his parents say Richard took increasingly higher doses, he began to suffer mood swings, insomnia, delusions and paranoia, leading the Fees to lock their bedroom door at night in fear (Flam).
Richard is one of several victims who had decided the benefits to abusing Adderall far outweighed the risks. He was not the first nor will he be the last if Adderall remains the “easy” way for student’s to alleviate the pressures of the academic system.
Adderall is like injecting a steroid. The abuser is relying on outside substances to give them an edge over their peers. Some individuals who have recognized the Adderall issue use this analogy to argue against the distribution of this drug. This side claims that the easiest solution would be to severely restrict the distribution of Adderall and similar drugs to prevent its use in academics. However, there are several issues with this proposed solution. Firstly, the diagnosis of ADHD is flawed. Therapists have been found to incorrectly diagnose children with ADHD based on biases. On a recent study regarding an experiment where therapists were given pre-diagnosed groups of children to diagnose for themselves, one of the conclusions was “that overdiagnosis of ADHD occurs in clinical routine and that the patient’s gender influences diagnosis considerably”(Bruchmüller, Jürgen; Schneider). In addition to this, it is generally more appealing to medicate a restless child than to take the time to support his/her development with this condition in mind. It is unfair to those who are using stimulants properly to have to accept new restrictions on their prescriptions, especially when considering that the abundance of Adderall is due to incorrect diagnoses. Secondly, the restriction only encourages the Adderall grey market. Less supply leads to adolescents charging higher for their prescriptions and those addicted to the drug begin to show withdrawal symptoms because they cannot purchase the substance as often.
Discovering an effective solution to the Adderall abuse issue may require more than a topical view of the young individuals who depend or have become dependant on the drug. Perhaps the issue lies in how society has pushed the youth to pursue this edge rather than the edge itself. If action is not taken in deciding which of these is the core of the problem then we may see a workforce of anxious drug addicts running our businesses.