Adderall as a drug menace?

Just say yes? The rise of 'study drugs' in college

By Arianna Yanes, Special to CNN

updated 8:58 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014


Teens Taking ADHD Drugs to Get Good Grades: How Big a Problem Is It?

Students have been taking stimulants to get ahead since the 1930s. Is there any reason to believe the problem is bigger today than ever before?

By Maia Szalavitz, TIME magazine

June 11, 2012


There's some stuff that CNN isn't telling us in the story and their "framing" of the issue is a pretty good example of how the media - maybe well-intentioned and inadvertently - reinforces beliefs about things that are inaccurate, biased, and promote judgment rather than understanding.

Adderall is an amphetamine, a stimulant, which has been and is widely used to help with mental alertness and concentration. Amphetamines are a curious class of drugs insofar as the motivation to take them and their effects on our minds and bodies is different from other drugs. So rather than simply giving a user a sense of euphoria it makes people work harder and longer. And because of this we find it has "legitimate" uses. But the legitimacy is also different. These are not medicines used to sedate or relieve pain. Instead amphetamines have long been given to those in jobs requiring people to stay focused and on task - young children and fighter pilots. College studentsí use it similarly as the story illustrates. And there are real risks in its use.

Notice, however, that the story isn't reporting new information. Rather itís a story that is generated by the calendar, not by any turn in events. As the school year winds down, especially in college, students experience considerable stress to complete their work. The workload and the stress increase demand for anything that can help. Sadly, too much caffeine gives them the jitters. And itís not like these students are seeking out some other homebrew. Instead of another illicit form of speed Ė meth, Adderall is a legal commercial pharmaceutical product. Students are using it because itís available legally albeit not in the ways intended by the law or prescription. And CNN's story glides by the fact that most students using Adderall are just that - occasional users and not addicts. Are they abusing the drug? The problem is that this is an issue of 'only when I say so.' I think young adults nowadays recognize the contradictions here. Are they making informed decisions? Are their informed decisions any less so than the public who are fed stories like this. And most of the time we as audiences, viewers, or readers are given our 'fix' of the news telling us that our fears and worries are okay. But are they a menace in our classrooms, the monsters under our beds, or the anxieties in our closets?

Wouldnít you know it. Thereís a pill for that.