Comment from CCHR: Psycho/Pharma and the press will frequently cite the dangers of illicit use of prescription drugs like Ritalin, Adderall or Concerta as “dangerous” or “risky” when taken by kids/students that don’t have “ADHD.” This is a ludicrous statement for two reasons; The first is that the US DEA classifies Ritalin and other “ADHD drugs” as schedule ll drugs, meaning they have the highest potential for abuse, no matter who is taking them— whether someone has been diagnosed ADHD or not is irrelevant. Secondly, the international warnings on these stimulants causing stunted growth, mania, future drug dependence, heart attack, stroke and sudden death also apply to anyone taking the drugs—again, regardless of whether they’ve been diagnosed “ADHD” or not. Considering there is no verifiable medical condition of “ADHD” or “ADD,” and considering that the drugs therefore are not medically “correcting” any verifiable physical abnormality—children and students are simply being prescribed legal drugs that rival the side effects of street drugs. Period.
By Michael Prochaska, September 13, 2010
The abuse of prescription drugs is one of college campuses’ best kept secrets.
Pharmaceutical pills don’t require a wet towel under a door, open windows or even mellow neighbors. A single pop and it’s as if that pill had never existed.
With more than 50 million teenagers diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, it’s a painless effort to find a friend who can supply.
Zak Vaudo, a junior from Marietta and former Adderall consumer, was one of those kids.
“Adderall definitely helped me focus,” said Vaudo, who was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder at the age of eight. “It also did a bunch of things I wasn’t very fond of but it definitely helped me focus.”
Vaudo was on Adderall for eight years and although he was left unbothered by illegal drug users in high school, Vaudo said there would be a demand at the University if he still used Adderall.
“Given the number of people that I have become friends and acquaintances with at the University of Georgia, at least one of them would want to use it,” he said.
Brianna Riley, a senior public relations major from Marietta, witnessed first-hand the effects of abusing Adderall when her friends began taking it as a diet pill.
She said that when her friends were taking the drug, they behaved far differently than they normally did.
“When they are on it, they’re kind of cracked out — like they’re really hyper, and also they lose their appetite,” Riley said. “They wouldn’t eat for like a day.”
Though some students abuse Adderall in order to help them lose weight, other students may use the drug in order to help out with studying and academics.
“I’ve had a few friends who used them for studying,” said Philip Brettschneider, a fourth year anthropology major from Marietta. “They improve your memory. They improve your concentration. It’s similar to drinking coffee beforehand — just a little more potent.”
Despite good intentions and beneficial results, Adderall is still dangerous and illegal without the authorization of a doctor.
“We know there has been this concept on campus in general on using Adderall, methamphetamine and all the drugs for ADHD,” said pharmacy professor Randall Tackett. “The students look at them as being pretty innocuous because everybody takes them. We’re concerned because the number one group of drugs being used is prescription drugs.”
Even though prescription drug abuse may be widespread, Tackett said it’s difficult to spot.
“The problem we’re seeing is that we have people that are abusing prescription drugs — they don’t make the paper as much because we see a lot of people that are borrowing medications from people,” he said.
University Police Chief Jimmy Williamson said the campus police do not categorize prescription drug abuse in their drug arrest records. Therefore, there are no available statistics on how many University students abuse pharmaceutical drugs.
A concern for students’ safety is one reason Tackett lectures on drug abuse. Drugs used to treat ADHD such as Ritalin contain ingredients used in crystal meth. They also significantly increase blood pressure and carry the risk of heart failure.
Kevin O’Brien, a graduate student in the department of psychology, was awoken one night several years ago by a friend frantically asking for help after her boyfriend had taken a large dosage of Adderall during a study session.
“He was at risk for heart failure because of [a] congenital birth defect,” he said.
Mike Friedline, a drug and alcohol counselor at the University Health Center, has more experience counseling students abusing Xanax and OxyContin, but said a number of patients admit to using Adderall for studying.
“It is very stressful to repeatedly put off studying until the last minute,” Friedline said. “So rather than relieving stress, non-prescription Adderall use just increases stress. Rather than enhancing performance, Adderall and other stimulants just enable sloppy performance. That’s hard to see when someone uses Adderall and then makes a good test grade, but they would learn more, retain more and feel less stress just by using better studying skills.”
Though health experts claim sleep and exercise to be fundamental in achieving good grades, a new company called PROFIDERALL has developed a drug and advertising campaign targeted at students.