By Jay Kim, English Columnist
Adderall, the study drug, America’s favorite amphetamine, the pill that will make you feel like Stephen Hawking on coke.
As many of us college students know, Adderall is a common prescription drug that is used to treat those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Since 2007, however, prescription has doubled in the US. Why? It is because an estimated 30 percent of university students are known to have used adderall at some point those with or without suffering from ADHD according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Adderall’s origin could be rooted back to a simple mistake. In 1927, chemist G.A. Alles was searching for a cheaper alternative for ephedrine, a drug that treats asthma. He injected himself with 50mg of an amphetamine sample that he created. He reported to have had a sleepless night and published the effects of the amphetamine sample in 1932. By the end of the 1930s and into the 40s, students and soldiers in the war were taking the substance to stay alert and treat fatigue. The very brand name of Adderall has been inspired by the saying “A.D.D. for all,” which reflects the brand creator’s ambition to expand his customer base (pretty shady huh?).
So what exactly is Adderall and why do people take it?
Adderall is essentially a combination of two stimulant drugs: amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. As the names of the ingredients suggest, the study drug is very similar to methamphetamine, commonly known as meth. Within an hour of consumption, Adderall affects the neuro receptors in the central nervous system, increasing the effects of serotonin and dopamine in our body. As a result, unnaturally high levels of dopamine and adrenaline are produced, leaving the consumer unable to sleep for hours. Adderall also causes the release of norepinephrine, which ramps up the sympathetic nervous system, giving the user increased alertness and focus and leaving them in a fight-or-flight state. In addition, the release of norepinephrine results in blood and energy moving to major organs instead of digestive systems, causing its users to lose appetite. Its common usage as a treatment for eating disorders roots from this particular effect.
With the description of Adderall presented above, the drug sounds phenomenal. It literally seems to be cocaine without its side effects, plus you get to study while feeling euphoric for hours. If Red Bull gives you wings, Adderall seems to give you rocket engines on steroids; however, Adderall is a serious drug with severe side effects as well. If consumption of the drug continues, the brain will stop releasing dopamine and serotonin naturally, resulting in the user becoming dependent on the drug. If it is taken without careful supervision by a doctor, it will have various negative outcomes including depression, bipolar disorder, seizures, and even a heart attack. Other possible risks include an increased possibility for Parkinson's disease by 60 percent.
The terrible state of research for the drug besides the limited amount of Multimodal Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (MTA) studies is quite upsetting, and the little data it provides is quite abhorring as it leaves its users with unknown unknowns.
Why is adderall addiction so relevant to us today?
According to American Psychiatric Association (APA), while only five percent of Americans actually suffer from ADHD, around fifteen percent of American children are prescribed Adderall.
Many of us as Cal students are often tempted to partake in this Adderall craze, especially when there is an important paper due or final season swings by. The competitiveness that is so prevalent around campus, the hippie roots of California that is so opened to the use of narcotics and marijuana, and its strong stereotype of Adderall being a study drug dovetails to make us think that Adderall isn’t as harmful as other recreational drugs like LSD.
Although the drug isn’t strongly associated with its recreational use, just like its fellow schedule II controlled substance subparts like morphine, opium, and codeine, Adderall is commonly used in recreational settings such as concerts or raves as well. Also, people who are hardcore gamers take adderall to stay up all night to play.
Adderall is one of the many drugs out there that is overprescribed yet underestimated. In a sense, Adderall is almost like coke in terms of its effects and risks. A common misconception that Adderall is safe because it is prescripted by doctors could not be more wrong; there are a significant number of cases where patients who are monitored by doctors and use the medication responsibly have experienced psychosis. As the drug has become a greater sensation over the last decade, maybe one should think one more time before popping that blue knowledge candy and partaking in the Adderall craze.
Bottom line: Do I think it is wrong to use Adderall to help you through finals? Not really. Do I think it’s stupid? Definitely.