Illegal A's

Study shows increase in Adderall use, permissive attitudes

On May 4, 2014

Finals week is typically a time of heavy coffee consumption and late-night library sessions, but Adderall use is rapidly becoming a more recognized aspect of the most stressful week of the semester.

Use of 'good grade pills' is surging across the nation's top universities. One in five students at an unnamed Ivy League campus reported using Adderall or Ritalin, according to a new study presented at the annual Pediatric American Societies' meeting Saturday. The pills are only available with a prescription, typically given to individuals diagnosed with ADHD.

Nearly one in three students surveyed do not feel using the drug is cheating, according to the same study.

Taking Adderall without a prescription is not looking at another student's paper; it isn't jotting some notes down on the brim of a hat, or sneaking a look at your iPhone during a test. It is not cheating per se.

Though The Spectrum was largely divided on this issue, the majority of the board believes using Adderall - a drug prescribed to treat a recognized medical disorder - for the express purpose of performing better on an exam or paper is a form of academic dishonesty.

Academic honesty, or its antithesis, is broader and more easily skirted than traditional cheating. Adderall use, a practice seemingly accessible at first glance, represents a dangerous trend in student behavior, attitudes toward academics and the state of academics itself.

Beyond notions of honesty, Adderall has proven health risks, physical and psychological, as well as the risk for addiction with long-term abuse. Its use clearly presents potential for the development of poor study habits and short-term memorization as opposed to active, planned-out learning.

The use further speaks to eroding views on the place and role of academia in our lives. Treating college learning and assignments as tasks to be completed quickly in the span of an evening with the help of an illegal study aid robs the university experience of some intrinsic value.

Widespread and repeated Adderall or Ritalin use to study devalues what has made education so valuable - the value of learning and intellect beyond what it can provide the individual in terms of a future career.

Viewing education as a series of all-nighters to get through by use of someone else's prescribed pills is in opposition to the spirit our university espouses.

The growing use of these pills, and the growing acceptance of the practice, speaks to a system that has readily engendered the wrong values. Schools, like our own, that once touted the good of education in and of itself are more rapidly becoming intermediate steps to a future career.

Education has lost its luster as something invaluable for its own sake, the goal of humanity for the benefit it provides irrespective of the promise of a future job. When a university education is seen as a means to an end rather than an end itself, "getting through" becomes a more accepted approach.

Certainly, Adderall has been used by some in more responsible ways than others, but the positive intentions of some cannot be used to set policy. The university is responsible for addressing this growing trend in a more proactive way as opposed to all but ignoring its prevalence.

The heart of academic honesty is the legitimacy of your academic accomplishments. Use of an illegally obtained substance to improve is an anathema to that legitimacy.

Finals week is crunch time for students across the campus. Doing it without Adderall is simply a healthier and more honest approach.



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