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College’s Secret Nightmare – Academic Doping

Adderall is an amphetamine that is primarily prescribed to treat either ADHD or narcolepsy. When used as prescribed, this drug provides increased wakefulness, a mild euphoria, and increased cognitive control. It is this last effect that is the reason that Adderall has become the drug of choice for academic doping.

Adderall as a Performance Enhancer

Both anecdotal evidence and clinical trials have shown that the increase in cognitive control from Adderall results in improved working memory. As a result, students who take Adderall as a mental performance-enhancing drug are able to study more efficiently and better recall information studied when called upon during testing situations. Furthermore, because Adderall increases wakefulness, fatigue does not interfere with studying, which helps some college students during all night cram sessions.

The number of students in college that are abusing Adderall is increasing at a very high rate. It has become part of the fabric of life in the modern college campuses. Adderall is a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, which are central nervous system stimulants that affect the brain and the nerves contributing to impulse control and hyperactivity. The drug is mostly used to treat the ADHD condition but college students use it as a study drug. It has gained great acceptance and use among young people. Users can quickly become addicted and have long-term effects beyond the years they are in college. It is estimated that a third of all college students have used stimulants once ion their campus lives.


There are a number of reasons that college students might choose to use Adderall. The most common reason is that it gives them the ability to study longer, sleep less and it increases the impact of other substances. Apart from these reasons they use it to enhance their athletic performance and lose weight.

The drug is often referred to as a study drug since it helps students focus and function well without sleep. Around the exam period many students will be in the library studying and not partying. In such an environment where there is an endless workload students might need a quick fix to help them buckle down and also power through. Students that are not able to fit in enough study before exams will use the drug to stay awake, study and not feel tired. Many students are also using it for partying. As a result of the abuse, the number of deaths and emergency room visits has more than doubled in the past few years.

A number of the students will arrive with the drug and by the end of their study in the college a larger number of students who did not use them will have prescriptions from clinicians in the vicinity. It does not take long for students to know which doctor they should visit and what they should say to them to get a legal prescription. Even if the student with a prescription does not want use them he can sell them since they have a high resell value.

Research shows that full time students are more likely to abuse Adderall than their part time counter parts. The number of users will vary depending on the school with private elite universities having the largest proportion of abusers. 81% of students believe that they are using it for the right reasons which are to be more productive in class and be more competitive. They also believe that the drug is not dangerous at all. A typical user will use Adderall once a month or several times a week depending on their schedule and their workload.

The biggest barrier to stopping the abuse is changing the attitude of the students where they believe that the end justifies the means. Not many students believe that the drug is addictive and this is a major concern. Universities are trying to deal with this situation by holding discussions and talks with students but this is not effective since many who turn up for the talk do not use the drug. The problem then becomes convincing users to attend the talks.


If you have been diagnosed with ADHD or narcolepsy, and have been prescribed Adderall, there is nothing illegal about using it. And, assuming you are taking the drug as prescribed, you should experience no academic consequences from your university or college. However, when the drug is taken at the prescribed doses, and at the prescribed times, it provides minimal, if any, advantage. Rather, it simply creates a roughly even playing field with students who don’t face difficulties from these conditions.

On the other hand, if you are abusing a legally prescribed drug for performance enhancement, you could face academic consequences. Many schools, as they become aware of the abuse, are treating academic doping as a form of cheating. However, since it is also a drug addiction, often students are able undergo drug rehabilitation procedures instead of more severe consequences that other types of cheating might earn.

If you aren’t prescribed the drug, however, the only way to get the drug is illegally. Adderall drug dealers are common on many campuses. Students who are prescribed the drug simply sell tablets to those that aren’t. While the person selling the drug is committing the more serious felony, you could also get in serious legal trouble if you are caught purchasing or even possessing the drug without a prescription.



NBC News: Why ADHD Drugs Are the Hottest Study Aid on College Campuses

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