UB students use Adderall to cope with college stress
Jeremy Ferris, a senior political science major, washed down an unprescribed 20 milligram extended-release Adderall with a swig of AMP energy drink.
His French 104 exam was the next day, April 12, and hehadn't started studying yet.
"I don't need [Adderall] to study," Ferris said. "I just prefer it."
With the help of AMP and Adderall, Ferris found he was able to take in a week's worth of information in one night.
Ferris stayed glued to his computer screen throughout the night. He smoked half a pack of Marlboro 27s and drank three bottles of water. He slept for one hour - a quick nap from 6-7 a.m.
Ferris received a B on the test.
The following day, Ferris felt sluggish and unmotivated. After he finished his daily tasks like attending class and doing homework, he headed home from campus around 4 p.m. and slept through the night.
This method of studying has become increasingly common in college students, according to a study conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The survey showed nonmedical use of Adderall in the past year among college students increased from 3 percent to 6.4 percent.
The survey revealed 15 percent of college students have illegally ingested Adderall, Ritalin or another stimulant in the past year.
Additionally, the survey showed 29 percent of students believe addiction is impossible because of Adderall's prescription status. Thirty-nine percent said it is acceptable to abuse Adderall without contacting a doctor. Out of the students surveyed with prescriptions, 95 percent of those reporting abuse admitted to faking their prescription.
Between 30 and 40 percent of undergraduates reported abusing Adderall and similar stimulants during strenuous times like the weeks of midterms and final exams.
Dan Haeseker, a senior international trade major, will be taking Adderall during finals week.
"If Adderall was a woman, I would marry her," Haeseker said.
David Dietz and Jun-Xu Li, assistant pharmacology and toxicology professors, said Adderall and associated psycho-stimulants are more dangerous than many college students understand.
Adderall is prescribed to people diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to calm the brain, according to Dietz. He said when abused, the opposite could occur. Taking unprescribed Adderall at a low dosage can increase brain activity and aid in focus, according to Dietz.
He said the adverse effects could be as serious as a psycho-stimulant-induced psychosis indistinguishable from schizophrenia. Dietz noted the highly addictive qualities of the drug.
"Adderall is so much like cocaine," Li said. "You almost cannot discriminate between the two."
Despite the negative side effects, students still use Adderall. Some students say getting a few pills is as easy as making a quick stop between classes, according to Ferris and Haeseker.
The two students said the exchange of Adderall occurs all over UB, from the dorms to the hallways and libraries.
Will Kaicher, a senior environmental design major and Ferris' roommate, said he has never taken Adderall but feels it is abundant at UB.
"I don't do it myself," Kaicher said. "But I do know where to get it."
Many students like Ferris find it's easier and cheaper to get Adderall illegally than getting a prescription.
Dietz said the prescription process is questionable as a whole because ADD and ADHD are difficult to diagnose. He pointed out a doctor cannot determine psychiatric disorders from drawing a blood sample; therefore, a psychiatric evaluation is necessary for an Adderall prescription.
Ferris' Adderall provider, who wished to remain anonymous, has a prescriptionand believes he needs the medication to function productively. He said he experiences no adverse side effects.
"It was relatively easy to get," Ferris' Adderall source said. "I just had to fill out a survey."
He said he takes his Adderall pills during the week and doesn't need them on the weekends to focus on work. He saves his leftover pills from each weekend and sells them throughout the year but mostly during midterm and finals week to make "a quick buck."
He sells each pill for $5.
On average, Ferris spends approximately $20 per semester on Adderall, mostly during midterms and finals week.
Ferris' seller believes Adderall successfully treats his ADHD when he uses it as directed. Ferris, however, questions the drug's associated disorder as a whole and considers Adderall a "booster." He uses it strictly to propel his studying.
Ferris worries about the adverse effects this method of studying may have and feels he has trouble retaining the information in the long term.
When asked about the French subjunctive tense he was tested on one day after the test, Ferris responded with a blank stare and a shrug.
"[Adderall] is just a quick fix," Ferris said. "It allows us to be pretty terrible students and temporarily make up for it in one night."
Ferris' Adderall dealer said he plans on continuing filling a prescription for the stimulant for the remainder of his life. He said without it, his simple daily tasks would become more difficult.
Ferris said Adderall consumption is exhausting but is a price he has to pay. When he needs to get his work done fast and efficiently, he considers Adderall the most helpful option. He said he sees no reason to take the pill after he graduates.
"When my college career is over, so is my Adderall consumption," he said.
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