Monday Mar 25 2013
Straight Talk for Teens: ‘Study drugs’ like Adderall not a road to excellenceBy: Lauren Forcella
Dear Straight Talk,
My very stressed-out son admitted using Adderall as a “study drug.” He says he needs it to be competitive. He buys it at high school for $3 a pill, saying, "you can get it everywhere." I had no idea this was such a widespread problem in competitive high schools and colleges. We’ve been helping him focus without it, and keep telling him lower grades are better than using drugs to get A’s. Please sound the alarm for other parents.
~ Concerned Father, Laguna Niguel, Calif.
Brie, 21, San Francisco: Nowadays, it's uncommon for students not to use Adderall or Adderall-like drugs at some point. I borrowed my roommate’s Concerta prescription and used it for finals one semester and to get through calculus — not that I liked doing this — but I stayed focused for seven hours in the math lab, resulting in an A versus a C. Nearly half my friends take Adderall regularly, while the rest of us drink lots of caffeine. I work and go to school (both full time), and two Rock Stars are the only way I get through some days. I’ve thought about an Adderall prescription, but I know it's harmful (I’d feel like vomiting coming off the Concerta), plus, I can ask the first five people I see on campus and get it.
With today’s job market, students must get A's, volunteer, do internships, and for many of us, work for a living. It's not like my parents’ day. Education is becoming like sports where to get anywhere, you have to dope.
Omari, 19, Washington, D.C.: I know many students who use Adderall. My high school was ranked third nationally. You can imagine the competition. At college, I’m not even surprised when I hear people are taking it. I’ve never cared for pills, but many friends swear by them and have the GPAs to ‘prove’ it. However, unless you have ADHD, there is no reason for Adderall. My GPA is higher than my friends’ without ever popping one. I stay focused using a reward system. I study, then do something fun, then come back to studying.
Alex, 17, Newton, Mass.: Our world is unnaturally competitive and fast-paced. Taking high school courses at the community college, or getting a GED and applying directly to college (which I’m doing), are healthy alternatives to today’s ‘academic overload’ and allow time for spiritual/personal growth. (Plus, if no Adderall means lower grades, a GED doesn’t make much difference in college acceptances.) I’m happy to begin college early and miss the enormous workload of junior and senior years. Other remedies: a good therapist and/or a meditation practice.
Nicole, 23, Santa Rosa, Calif.: Parents must reflect on their role in pushing their children so hard. Students first use Adderall to study for exams. Because it’s an amphetamine, many become addicted and things go downhill.
Dear Concerned Father,
Thank you for sounding the alarm. I couldn’t agree more that lower grades, legitimately earned, are better than doping for A’s. Students themselves call Adderrall misuse “legal cheating.” Alex offers some interesting wholesale alternatives to the “rat race” of many competitive high schools.
Not only are Adderall and Adderall-like drugs addictive and physically harmful, they have a moral and spiritual downside and prevent the forming of one’s own coping skills and work ethic. A society-wide doctor-parent-school-child approach is needed to cool Adderall prescriptions (except for true ADHD cases), rethink our pressure-cooker schools, and educate everyone about the moral, societal, and health dangers of — latest vanity-drug buzzword — “pediatric neuroenhancement.”
Warning signs of ‘Study Drug’ abuse: Insomnia, irritability, mood swings, depression, nausea, twitching, shaking, overly talkative, weight loss, complaints of rapid or irregular heart beat, sudden good grades and focus.
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