By Simran Kaler, October 18 2016 —
With midterms underway, many students are hiding under their beds or spending all hours of the day at TFDL, coffee in hand. If there was a magic potion to make you smarter or improve your concentration for extended periods of time, who wouldn’t line up to take it? But when this solution could leave you with severe side effects and a potential lifelong addiction, it might not be so magical after all.
According to a study by Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, more than one in 20 college students misuse prescriptions intended to treat Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder such as Adderall. Students describe the effects of these drugs as “just want[ing] to focus on the task that is in front of them,” “tunnel-vision” and intense concentration. These are obviously desirable result when you’re panicking over finals. But just because these drugs can be obtained from a doctor does not make them safe.
University no longer merely requires maintaining a certain GPA but also volunteer experience, jobs, clubs, sports teams and much more. Even at the U of C, whenever we hear “co-curricular record” we have the impulse to speed up and learn more about becoming extra attractive to potential employers.
We are bombarded with stress at all hours because we have reached a point where students are compelled to be the best, as merely getting a post-secondary degree does not guarantee a job.
Many students turn to study drugs to meet these demands. Campus becomes a tense and pressure-filled environment. Prices for these pills skyrocket as students become increasingly desperate for help.
Students shrug off potential risks like non-academic misconduct because these drugs are quite socially acceptable when used for academic purposes. The stigma attached to marijuana and cocaine just doesn’t seem to apply to misusing ADHD/ADD drugs.
But the main problem with taking study drugs to deal with stress is that it doesn’t stop. If you need the drugs to get you through law school, how are you going to get through the long hours as a lawyer? To those using the drugs, it is just a means to an end. They’re thinking, “just to get me through this paper. Just until finals are over.” But this mindset is dangerous.
The solution isn’t clear, but one thing is — these pills are not the answer. Working for 14 hours straight on Adderall is not a time-management skill and the pressure of school only translates to pressure of the job after graduation.
These drugs avoid a solution — the work hard, play hard culture we promote as the norm will cast its effects sooner or later. While it may be easy to condemn students who take these drugs, a far more constructive solution is to look at the culture that promotes it.