No need to abuse pharmaceuticals for extra energy
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 23:02
Academic responsibilities often engulf students in a blanket of anxiety and apprehension. The stress of exams, critical thinking papers and group research projects can habitually leave students riddled with psychological discomfort and emotional distress.
According to a 2012 study by the American College Counseling Association, 37.4 percent of college students who sought counseling were diagnosed with severe mental health problems. This figure more than doubled from statistics found in 2000, where only 16 percent were identified.
This never-ending mental agitation causes many students to turn to alternative methods to aid their efforts toward academic success. Stimulants like caffeine and nicotine are often used to allot students an additional burst of energy to power through the last few pages of a physics lab. Studies done by the NPD Group indicate, 39 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds surveyed admitted to drinking coffee at least once per week, in 2012.
Although there is a large population of college students turning to espressos and mochas for energy, there is another psychoactive drug in high demand among learners.
Adderall is a legal and commercially available drug in the United States and Canada. This medication is a concoction of stimulating amphetamines and is usually prescribed to children or adults who are hyperactive, impulsive, those who are narcoleptic or have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. This drug, which is a Schedule II substance, is obtainable only through a doctor-issued prescription. However, this doesn’t mean the medicine isn’t abused by people who don’t have a prescription to ingest.
In a 2012 case study, 34.5 percent of college students admitted to taking Adderall in hopes of increasing their performance for studying and during exams. While it can be hypothesized that a small portion of this percentage are actively and conservatively taking this medication legally, a larger quantity consume it dishonestly for various reasons. When Adderall is consumed, users are immersed with feelings of calmness paired with an alerted state of mind and elevated energy levels.
For those who are unafflicted by an attention disorder and who abuse this drug, Adderall does not promise a higher grade point average. However, it is the lure of completing studies and monotonous busy work with less time and effort, that persuades students to acquire this pill. Many of these students do nottake the time to become educated regarding the potential side effects of this psychoactive substance.
On a minimalistic scale, Adderall can cause lack of appetite, restlessness, headaches and weight loss. More hazardous potential side effects include chest pains, difficulty breathing, dangerous increases in blood pressure, migraines, nervousness, mood swings, depression, double vision and excessive or uncontrollable shaking. These possible negative properties are exponentially higher for those who abuse this medication.
After all, why would you willingly pump an amphetamine, with all its addictive potential, into your body? Adderall encourages the release of dopamine and norepinephrine into the mesolimbic pathway, the same chemical processes both methamphetamine and cocaine possess.
Is Adderall use essential for maximum productivity? For those with ADHD, it might be. But those who regularly exploit the drug carve a gap between obligations and capabilities. They are effectively filling that crevice with Adderall. This could lead to a reliance on Adderall for achieving responsibilities. This slippery slope could effortlessly transform into a full-blown psychological and physical dependence, as well as addiction.
Even for people diagnosed with ADHD or ADD who are told they need an Adderall prescription to perform at a standard societal level is a bit outlandish.
In 2009, according to the CDC, 9 percent of children have ADHD. However, according to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, one in 10 children use psychiatric drugs like Ritalin or Adderall without proper prescription. Can a society consider itself “healthy” if 20 percent need to be mentally jacked up on amphetamines to be “productive”?
Humans, especially many Americans, live constantly stimulated. Outrageously large television sets, iPods, personal computers, advertising, gaming consoles and Internet availability make it effortless to stay constantly connected to something or someone.
I guarantee the next time you walk to class you will notice that half — if not more — of the people scurrying about are staring at the hand-sized screen on their smartphone. How can you expect any child surrounded by this incessant, mind numbing, electronically-driven world to sit down and study a textbook for hours?
In the words of Sir Ken Robinson, an author and one of the world’s leading speakers, “Children are living in the most intensely stimulating period in the history of the Earth.” These drugs are a lackluster and misleading attempt to combat over-stimulation in hopes of teaching kids material that is comparatively dull and boring.
Plain and simple: We do not need these zombie pharmaceuticals to cubicle our pain.
Kyle Hart is a senior in psychology. The opinions expressed in his columns do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Barometer staff. Hart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.