ADHD Drugs of Choice at Colleges

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ADHD Drugs of Choice at Colleges

Student-Studying2College students who want to pull an all-nighter to write a paper or study for an exam sometimes use drugs commonly used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as a stimulant to remain awake and on task. That is not a safe or good plan, but estimates are that one out of five college students use Adderall, Ritalin, or other amphetamine-based prescription medications.

College students sometimes get a prescription from a physician, but sometimes obtain the drug illegally from another student. Dr. Mark Edmundson, the author of Why Teach?, claims that on college campuses, “The AD[H]D drugs seem to be omnipresent; they’re on sale in every dorm at prices that rise exponentially as the week of final exams approaches.” Students who sell the drugs risk a felony arrest whether they are selling their own prescription medication or have obtained the drug from another source.

A New York Times op-ed claims that the drugs, which cost from $2 to $5 a pill, “lead down a dark road of dependency, ever higher doses, fight-or-flight anxiety levels, sleeplessness, and depression.” (3-4-13) Other possible side effects of ADHD drugs include stroke, heart attack, and high blood pressure. ADHD medications should be used only under medical supervision. The New England Journal of Medicine states that, “About 5% of persons without ADHD who use stimulants for nonmedical purposes are expected to increase their use, leading to abuse and dependence.” (11-14-13)

According to, a researcher and professor of health science at Brigham Young University states, “Adderall is the most commonly abused prescription stimulant among college students.” He continues, “Our concern is that the more it becomes a social norm in online conversation, the higher risk there is of more people abusing it.” (11-5-13)