Adderall Arrives at Christian Colleges
Like any university campus, Christian colleges/universities have their share of students who abuse street drugs. But in my work with Christian college students over the past few years, I've noticed more and more over-the-counter and prescription drug abuse. One of the newest and seemingly innocuous (from the students' perspective) drugs of choice is Adderall.
Adderall is prescribed to those suffering from ADHD. However, students who feel pressure to achieve high grades and maintain the requisite college experience are turning to Adderall, known as the "study buddy," for a boost. As an "academic steroid," it gives students the energy and focus they need to pull all-nighters or study for long periods during the day. And it's easy to get. A student can buy it on campus from other students or lie about their condition in order to obtain a prescription from a medical provider. Inside Higher Ed reports that nationally, the number of students who are using Adderall and Ritalin as "study aids" is close to10 percent. In a New Yorker article titled "Brain Gain," Margaret Talbot writes:
… in recent years Adderall and Ritalin, another stimulant, have been adopted as cognitive enhancers: drugs that high-functioning, overcommitted people take to become higher-functioning and more overcommitted. (Such use is "off label," meaning that it does not have the approval of either the drug's manufacturer or the Food and Drug Administration.) College campuses have become laboratories for experimentation with neuroenhancement ….
I first heard about Adderall a few years ago when a sharp, highly involved, and winsome student sent me an e-mail asking me "to keep her accountable." This precious student confessed to using Adderall during finals week and on a few other occasions when pressures piled up. When I asked her where she procured it, she told me that she got it off of another student.
This student looks and acts like an upstanding member of any youth or young adult group—she could be a ministry leader in church. In fact, I love her dearly. And that is often the case with students who are abusing neuro-enhancing drugs; most of the time you can't tell they're abusing by just looking at them.
As I already mentioned, for many, abusing these drugs is a means to a tangible end. Students are concerned with getting into grad school, pleasing their parents, and getting the coveted internship that lands them the desired job in this precarious economy. To do that, they need an impressive resume. Balancing a social life, academic pressures, and over-involvement in organizations and campus ministries can be overwhelming. Thus the temptation to abuse a tiny neuro-enhancing pill.
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