School can make for a very competitive atmosphere, especially when it reaches a college level. Students are constantly setting new benchmarks for what it means to be a high performing scholar. Statistics tell students how they measure up. Things like standardized tests tell us where we fit on a scale of intelligence in comparison to other students.
Teachers even set curves based on certain student performances in the classroom. The limited number of students admitted to certain colleges makes it hard to get into some top schools. All of this boils down to the fact that in college, competition matters. What you do to get ahead of the competition is up to you. Many students spend countless hours studying just to get an A on their next test.
Some students have more trouble than others when it comes to concentrating on certain tasks. For that problem, prescription drugs can help.
Adderall, a drug frequently prescribed to people suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is often abused by students who aren’t actually diagnosed with ADHD. Adderall, when used correctly, allows for someone with ADHD to function normally from day to day and carry on normal tasks that require concentration. When someone who does not have ADHD takes the drug, the effect is extreme concentration for hours on end, allowing the brain to cram in a lot of information at once.
Should it be fair that students who are not diagnosed for ADHD use Adderall to outperform fellow students? I look at it like sports and the use of steroids by some athletes. Obviously the use of steroids is banned in professional sports for a reason; it would make for a very uneven playing field. I understand that the world of academics isn’t as directly competitive as sports, but I do see some similarities in terms of competition.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, took a national survey of college students from around the nation in 2009.
They discovered that “an estimated 6.4 percent of full-time college students aged 18 to 22 used Adderall non medically in the past year.” While that may not seem like a huge number at first, one must take into account the use that also goes unreported.
I am not extremely opposed to the use of Adderall for non-medical purposes. However, I do question the morality behind it. Again, you are competing with other college students when it comes to setting curves, getting in to certain colleges or setting averages for standardized tests. I generally don’t care to get into people’s personal affairs; that is, until it affects other people. I believe it is important at times to question one’s own morals.
I have never experimented with Adderall, but have, at times, found myself wanting to try it out. I wanted to feel what it would be like to have an extremely heightened sense of concentration, but one of my fears is that it would, in the end, make me lazy. If I found out that it is really helpful for my studying, I might end up relying on it every time I have a test or a paper coming up.
Of course, the use of Adderall by college students is not going to stop any time soon. In fact, my guess is that use will continue to rise.