Adderall, ritalin prevalent study aide on campus

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October 31, 2014

12:18 AM

The College of William and Mary, recently ranked the third smartest public school in the country according to Business Insider, is home to rigorous academics. In such an ambitious environment, some students may use “study drugs” like Adderall or Ritalin as common aids.

Some students who want to concentrate for long periods of time abuse Adderall, a drug developed as a helpful tool in combating attention disorders. Adderall, an amphetamine, can increase alertness and energy, but abusers run the risk of becoming psychologically and physically addicted to it, according to WebMD. Adverse effects include dangerously high body temperature, increased risk of cardiovascular failure and seizures; long-term abuse can lead to anxiety, paranoia and hostility, WebMD says.

According to the Office of Health Promotion, Adderall and other prescription drug abuse affect a little over 10 percent of students at the College. While use is relatively uncommon, about one in ten students are affected.

Brian Gelston ’15 has been an RA for three years. As an RA, he said he has never had to directly deal with a case of Adderall abuse. However, he said that this does not necessarily mean it is not an issue in the College’s community, since Adderall abuse can be harder to identify and regulate than abuse of other substances.

“Just because you don’t catch people doing something, [it] doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem,” Gelston said. “It’s not like alcohol or marijuana, where you can smell it in the hallway … It’s not like we can go through people’s prescription bottles in their room. It’s something that’s very easy to get away with, because there’s really no way to check for or control it.”

Gelston also mentioned that abuse of Adderall sometimes does not produce the desired effect students hope for — “study drugs” heighten concentration, but not necessarily productivity.

“Students will take Adderall thinking they’re going to focus hard on an essay, but instead [they] stay up all night cleaning their room,” he said.

Tim Murphy ’18 said he has never personally experienced the problem of Adderall abuse during his time at the College, but said he sees the drug as desired mostly for academic reasons.

“I would guess that around ten percent of people take Adderall,” he said. “But I think it would be more prevalent around midterms or finals, since it’s more for study purposes.”

Health promotion specialist Sarah Menefee said that the College has taken steps to reduce the abuse of prescription drugs for increased focus and for recreational use.

“The Office of Health Promotion advises [Health Outreach Peer Educators],” Menefee said in an email. “HOPE has done several campaigns [about] prescription drug misuse. In one campaign, they placed empty prescription pill bottles around campus with facts about prescription drug misuse written on them.”

HOPE generally focuses on alcohol and tobacco abuse, but other programs — for example, seminars during first-year orientation — place more emphasis on problems related to the abuse of “study drugs.”

The College provides resources besides HOPE for students experiencing difficulty with substances, including the Student Health Center, the Counseling Center and the Office of Health Education.

“Just because you don’t catch people doing something, [it] doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem,” Gelston said. “It’s not like alcohol or marijuana, where you can smell it in the hallway. It’s not like we can go through people’s prescription bottles in their room. It’s something that’s very easy to get away with, because there’s really no way to check for or control it.”

Gelston also mentioned that abuse of Adderall sometimes does not produce the desired effect students hope for — “study drugs” heighten concentration, but not necessarily productivity.

“Students will take Adderall thinking they’re going to focus hard on an essay, but instead [they] stay up all night cleaning their room,” he said.

Tim Murphy ’18 said he has never personally experienced the problem of Adderall abuse during his time at the College, but said he sees the drug as desired mostly for academic reasons.

“I would guess that around ten percent of people take Adderall,” he said. “But I think it would be more prevalent around midterms or finals, since it’s more for study purposes.”

Health promotion specialist Sarah Menefee said that the College has taken steps to reduce the abuse of prescription drugs for increased focus and for recreational use.

“The Office of Health Promotion advises [Health Outreach Peer Educators],” Menefee said in an email. “HOPE has done several campaigns [about] prescription drug misuse. In one campaign, they placed empty prescription pill bottles around campus with facts about prescription drug misuse written on them.”

HOPE generally focuses on alcohol and tobacco abuse, but other programs — for example, seminars during first-year orientation — place more emphasis on problems related to the abuse of “study drugs.”

The College provides resources besides HOPE for students experiencing difficulty with substances, including the Student Health Center, the Counseling Center and the Office of Health Education.

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