A recent article in the Washington Post illustrates how the seemingly harmless practice of sharing unused meds is becoming a national epidemic. In the article, one anonymous coed describes her routine of selling leftover pills from her Adderall script to friends she believes are only using it as a study aid.
The student, which is given Adderall to cope with her Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder (ADHD), is like many adults dealing with the disorder. The medication’s common side effect of sleeplessness is a turn off for those who depend on it, but are an incentive for those who are succumbing to the pressures of school. The problem lies in the fact that sharing, using and selling prescription drugs are crimes. Yet police find it one of the hardest problems to track and prosecute and college administrations can’t seem to enforce their policies on the matter.
Unlike alcoholics or junkies, the addiction to prescription drugs like Adderall leaves few symptoms or warning signs. Students who are using won’t come to class hung over or disoriented. Instead, Adderall users hide in plain sight among their peers.
The craze is drawing national attention. The White House Office of Drug Control plans to come up with policies regarding substance abuse, including prescription drug use among college students. The uphill battle could be the number of incoming freshman already packing drugs to handle their ADHD. The Higher Education Research Institute actually found that at least 5 percent of freshman had been diagnosed with ADHD.
So who is abusing Adderall and other ADHD prescription drugs? The University of Maryland’s Center on Young Adult Health and Development performed a study that showed average users are usually below-average students. Doing well in the classroom is apparently the driving force behind students turning to Adderall.
Colleges and universities across the country are realizing this and adding policies regarding prescription drug list to their mantras, even categorizing them as "enhancement drugs" similar to steroids. Because ADHD drugs heighten a person’s ability to perform, the drug is altering the normal circumstances of their performance.