The Orange and White Capsule
Have you ever wondered how students with straight A+ report cards survive the constant bombardment of work, stress and fatigue without putting at stake their social interaction, extracurriculars and job? Grab onto your chair because this might surprise you. According to McMaster University, 35% of college students have used this substance at least once to improve their performance. Focus, energy, alertness and attention are all qualities that would be incremented by consuming 1 on 2 small pills on a daily basis. At this point, probably you´re wondering all around the text looking for the name of the answer to your problems. However, I invite you to stay until the end, because it might not seem as attractive once you've finished reading.
Adderall, the most abused prescribed substance among college students. 81% of them do not believe that this drug is actually dangerous, but, why is that? The drug acts as an stimulant, meaning that it boosts and balances the neurotransmitters in your brain to achieve higher performance. It binds with dopamine and norepinephrine receptors to create more efficient neurological pathways with the help of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine to make you “feel good”. This stimulant is mostly used in people with ADHD to help improve their focus and attention in different tasks. However, the sad truth is that this prescribed medication is not going down the throat of the people that were supposed to be taking it.
A 1992-2002 study showed that there was a 368.5% increase in Adderall prescription among US territories, however, the population did not increase more than 10% in that time, so, where is all this Adderall going?
You guessed it! Down college students´ throats. But, don´t get me wrong, it would be misleading to say that everyone is taking it. Yet, if you are considering being a part of those people. This might discourage you a bit.
According to the American Addiction Centers (“Long Term Effects of Adderall on Brain, Personality, and Body”), this stimulant can create short and long-term side effects that are not as pleasant as taking the drug to ace a test. Studies have shown that Adderall mostly causes sleep deprivation and appetite loss, since it interrupts other neurotransmitters such as adenosine or melatonin in sleep, and disrupts hormones such as Ghrelin and Leptine responsible for appetite.
Additionally, a publication made by the Healthline webpage (“Long Term Effects of Adderall on Brain, Personality, and Body”), suggests that the circulatory, integumentary, nervous, and respiratory systems are as well affected by this drug. Ranging from hallucinations and irritability to cardiovascular impairment, psychotic episodes, heart attacks or even death.
Up to now you might be running towards your ADHD child and snatching the pills from his hand, however, this isn't the solution either. Even though children might develop an addiction to this drug: and according to a study made by University of Kentucky 30% of students taking this substance have reported abusing its effects. According to the ADDitude journal (ADDitude Editors), children with ADHD should first be diagnosed to consider the treatment options that best suit their case . Since, at the end, it is all about quantity and responsibility.
ADDitude Editors. “Everything You Need to Know About Adderall.” ADDitude, ADDitude, 27 May 2021, www.additudemag.com/adderall-adhd-medication-faq.
Demystifying Medicine. “Ten Facts about Adderall.” YouTube, Youtube, 9 Dec. 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpzVPPCofic.
Kennedy, Madeline. “How Adderall Works and How It Helps ADHD.” Insider, INSIDER, 11 Sept. 2020, www.insider.com/what-does-adderall-do.
“Long Term Effects of Adderall on Brain, Personality, and Body.” American Addiction Centers, American Addiction Centers, 12 Apr. 2021, americanaddictioncenters.org/adderall/long-term-effects.
Pietrangelo, Ann. “Effects of Adderall on the Body.” Healthline, Healthline, 19 Feb. 2019, www.healthline.com/health/adhd/adderall-effects-on-body#Takeaway.
Illustration by Kelsey Dake