Coffee is a common vice for college students to get those few extra hours of studying in, but some students have upped the ante on late night studying by taking Adderall, a presciption drug sister to the street drug speed.
According to Wikipedia, the United States has classified Adderall as a schedule II drug because it can potentially become addictive and easily abused.
This drug, which was originally prescribed for people with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) or Narcolepsy (a chronic sleeping disorder) has become the new college fad drug, to increase alertness and beat the sleepiness after a long night at the library.
Some SSU students who are prescribed the drug, along with some who are not, take Aderall regularly. Additionally, some of these students choose to sell their prescribed Aderall illegally.
However, I do have a few friends who are prescribed the drug, a few who aren't and still take it regularly and a few who sell their prescribed Adderall illegally.
One student, who wishes to remain anonymous, has used this drug illegally and frequently during his entire college career.
"I haven't gone one semester in college without taking Adderall during finals week," he said.
Although some see this prescription drug as being highly addictive and almost a way to cheat their way through college, some of the people I spoke with who were legitimately prescribed Adderall explained how useful it can be. Another student has a legal prescription to treat her ADHD, and claims that this drug has been a huge help to her academically and mentally.
"I am ADHD positive and I have anxiety when it comes to tests, so being on [Adderall] helps me focus and remember things I learned in class," she said.
The purpose of this drug is clear, but it may be easy to sometimes overlook the side effects that can and do occur, according to psychopharmacologist Robert Field.
Field explained that if someone is a consistent user and attempts to wean themselves off of it, they can have withdrawal symptoms including depression, psychosis, mania, aggressive behavior, heart attack, stroke and in some serious cases-sudden death.
Field explained that a doctor's diagnosis and medical expertise is the only safe way to take this drug.
"When someone is prescribed stimulants, the doctor evaluates the individual's blood pressure, evidence of any cardiac irregularities, heart rate, etc. Without this, there is risk," he said.
After talking with Field, I was curious to see how easy it would be to get a prescription at the Sonoma State Health Center. I spoke with Georgia Schwartz who is the medical director on campus and she made it very clear that getting a prescription for Adderall from them is highly unlikely.
Despite the medical advice and illegality of outsourcing for Adderall, many young college students continue to use this drug in an attempt to improve grades and focus during stressful workloads.
However, some of the students who are prescribed this drug have told me they not only benefit academically from this drug, but also sell pills for $3 each when they no longer have use for them.
"I sell my Adderall so I can make money and feel like I am helping other students out with their studies," said an anonymous junior SSU student.
Despite its good intentions, this drug has been proven to be deadly. In 2005, Shire Pharmaceuticals linked Adderall to 12 sudden deaths in American children.
A year later, 15 FDA safety advisors voted on whether or not this drug should have a "Black Box Warning," (a warning that appears on prescription drugs that can cause serious and adverse effects).
The final vote was a split vote of seven-eight, which led to the final decision of labeling Adderall, but not with their most severe black box warning-despite the 12 deaths of American children.
It seems that coffee may no longer be the first choice to get through the hell of hell week.
Unfortunately, the pressure of getting through finals with a little help from Adderall may override the reality that this drug has serious side effects, can be extremely addictive, and has been proven to kill.