Posted by: Olivia Antosiewicz | November 2, 2009

Trying too hard?

Long lines at Starbucks, no seats in Van Pelt, no vacant rooms in Huntsman: these are all signs that midterm season here at Penn is in full swing. Running from class to work to meetings to Van Pelt can become overwhelming at times. Knowing that a single exam will constitute at least thirty percent of one’s final grade can create for some stressful situations. Many students study for a single exam for several days, while others try to cram in half a semester’s reading into one long, highly caffeinated night. Yet there is still another group of students who feel that they cannot study without any help. These students don’t seek out aid in TA’s or fellow students, but rather in narcotics such as Adderall and Ritalin.

Students seek out these illegal prescription drugs to be able to study harder and longer. Adderall and Ritalin are legally used to treat attention-deficit disorder, or ADHD, but on college campuses are more commonly being used as study-aids with prices ranging from $5 to $20 per pill. They have become the drugs of choice since they increase cognitive function and allow students to study for hours with full concentration.

Many students rather take these pills instead of drinking coffee since they don’t make students feel as jittery as coffee. Obtaining these “study drugs” has become easier than most would assume. They are being sold in dormitories, cafeterias, libraries, etc. You may wonder how students are even getting these pills since they are prescription drugs. Many buy them from other students who actually have ADD, but receive many more pills under their prescription than necessary, while other, more cunning students, research the symptoms of ADHD and relay these symptoms to a doctor who is willing to prescribe them the drug of their choice.

Although Adderall and Ritalin seem like miracle drugs that allow for highly-stressed students to study longer, they are amphetamine-based, which means they are addictive. They alter chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine, which makes studying seem rewarding, increase blood pressure, blood glucose and heart rate, while constricting blood vessels. They suppress appetite and keep students awake for hours even when their bodies desperately long for sleep.

I know several students on campus who take these drugs because they feel that without them they won’t be capable to perform at the high standards they need to, to “beat the curve” and get that A. It has destructive patterns, and I’ve seen it consume people’s lives. This makes me question whether the University is putting too much pressure on students to do well, or if students are putting too much pressure on themselves to be better than their peers. Whichever it may be, using these drugs will definitely give you more than you bargain for.

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Responses

  1. It’s pretty amazing how comfortable some people are with putting things in their noses as well. I think another big problem is that often people make arbitrary end dates for this type of behavior, like “I just need it for this midterm” or “When I’m done with this class I won’t need to cram so much” or “I’m just going to do this while I’m in college.”

    Why would you abuse Adderall now if you thought it would be inappropriate later? This is not like wearing feety pajamas when you’re six.

  2. I too am shocked by this behavior whenever I encounter it. Using drugs like Adderall is an excuse for some people not to look at the overall issues with their lifestyle–poor time management, choosing to go out and drink the night before they have to write a huge paper, etc. If everyone at Penn were a little more intentional about how they went through life I think that they wouldn’t “need” chemical aids (with the exception of coffee, my drug of choice!).


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