Adderall use common among University students

A University freshman, who asked to remain anonymous, first heard about Adderall in the dorms two weeks before finals.

“People would say, ‘I need to take some Adderall and go to the library,’” she said. “A lot of people are looking for it.”

Although usually prescribed to people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, more college students nationwide who don’t have ADHD have been turning to the orange and white pills as a study aid.

According to a 2010 National College Health Assessment, 8 percent of surveyed University students said they had used stimulants within the past 12 months that were not prescribed to them.@@[email protected]@ Numbers from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that 6.4 percent of full-time college students abused Adderall in 2007.@@[email protected]@ But some studies have found that as many as 25 percent of students abused prescription stimulants.@@which [email protected]@

“My impression is that by the end of people’s time at the University, a much higher percentage of students use a stimulant,” University psychiatrist Rick Friedrich@@[email protected]@ said. “I would guess that even 25 percent would be on the low end.”

Gregg Wendland,@@[email protected]@ pharmacy manager at the University Health Center, also thinks abuse is fairly common.

“Students aren’t going to come in and tell us they’re using Adderall,” he said. “But based on national trends, I think it’s reasonably widespread.”

Wendland said the University has “stringent policies” on diagnosing students with ADHD. Students, Friedrich said, must take several tests to make sure it’s not just poor study habits preventing them from concentrating. The University pharmacy also carefully tracks prescriptions for Adderall, which cannot be refilled without a new prescription from a doctor and cannot be refilled early.

Prescriptions aren’t cheap either, ranging from $50 to $300 a month.

Two years ago, the University started giving students who are prescribed drugs like Adderall a contract that spells out both the health and criminal consequences of abusing the substance. Selling a drug like Adderall is a Class B felony and can result in 24 months of probation and up to 60 days in jail. Possessing the drug without a prescription can result in 18 months probation and up to 30 days in jail.

And when taken by people without ADHD, Adderall can cause panic attacks and heart problems after one use.

As national trends show, the University is not alone in dealing with stimulant abuse.

“Health centers across the country are flooded with requests with people saying they can’t concentrate, thinking they must have ADD,” Friedrich said, adding that universities must treat students who have ADHD, but must also monitor whether students are being responsible with their medications.

Jessica Champion,@@[email protected]@ senior substance abuse counselor at the University, said the University needs to do more to prevent Adderall abuse. She said there is an “overwhelming need for intervention” to inform students about stimulant abuse.

She and her staff work with about 400 students who have had substance abuse problems in the past. Of those students, she said about 75 percent abused Adderall during finals. “Students are not concerned about (health effects) at all,” she said.

One student’s account shows a similar attitude toward the drug.

“They don’t think it’s dangerous at all,” said University freshman Angie Hall@@[email protected]@ about students who use Adderall in her dorm. “Sometimes they take a little too much. They’ll say things like, ‘Oh, I’m not focused enough. I need more Adderall.’ And then they take more.”

Although the University has tutoring centers, outreach programs and student groups to help students who use substances or have trouble focusing, these programs may not be enough to change students’ attitudes toward Adderall.

“It’s quick, easy — it’s a shortcut,” Friedrich said. “There’s always going to be folks who opt for the pop-a-pill attitude to take care of their problems, but some additional services along the lines of helping people with focus and study abilities would help.”

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