Students’ workloads can lead to late-night cramming and, with finals week fast approaching, some students are ditching rest and caffeine for Adderall.
“Adderall is usually called an academic drug and is very prevalent amongst college students,” said Wesley Harrison, executive director of North Coast Substance Abuse Center.
Amphetamines such as Adderall are stimulants that have been used in many forms over the years as a way to improve mental focus. Amphetamines are a schedule II drug, which means they have a high potential for abuse as well as high risk of addiction, according to Center on Addiction, a nonprofit organization that conducts research on effective strategies to fight addiction.
Humboldt State University student Angel Orellana has used Adderall in the past to study for exams and to write papers.
“You don’t feel anything when you are on Adderall,” Orellana said. “You are just focused. You are not thinking about eating, sleeping, drinking – you just want to focus.”
Center on Addiction reports that 60 percent of people who use Adderall are between the ages of 18 and 25 years old.
Neither HSU’s student health center nor the Department of Health and Human Services could provide data about the prevalence of Adderall use by HSU students.
Mira Friedman said that HSU has not sold Adderall for the past 15 years that she has worked as Lead for Health Education on campus.
Center on Addiction also reports that taking Adderall for non-medical or non-prescribed purposes can be extremely dangerous and even deadly. Using non-prescribed amphetamines like Adderall is also illegal.
“I took Adderall once to stay awake, and I had never taken it before,” said HSU student Jamari Hilliard. “I wanted to sleep, but I couldn’t. My body was tired, but my mind was wide awake.”
Negative effects of Adderall use
Harrison suggests that Adderall will not help a healthy person’s cognition at all, and actually has a negative impact on the developing brain.
“People usually call Adderall the less harmful drug than meth, even though they are basically the same compound,” Harrison said.
American Addiction Center reports that some of the long-term effects of Adderall includes increased risk of heart attack, abnormal blood pressure levels, muscle weakness, vitamin deficiencies, seizures, and damage to the nerve cells, which can increase the likelihood of sudden cardiac death.
Where Students Get Adderall
Two-thirds of college students who take Adderall steal pills from family members, friends or roommates, according to Center on Addiction.
Students at HSU have different ways of accessing Adderall through friends, family and word of mouth.
“I had a friend who sold Adderall for like eight to 10 bucks, and people actually buy it,” said HSU student Samuel Barragan. “But I’d rather just drink coffee.”