With short-summer finals concluding this week, students at Tech will be spending the next few days recovering from dreaded all-nighters and gratuitous amounts of energy drinks as a result of their efforts to cram those last few CS 1371 notes before the big test.
For some students, that recovery may include getting over a much stronger substance than a small energy shot. With more students looking to increase their overall productivity, the level of use of amphetamines, including drugs such as Adderall and Vyvanse, has risen sharply.
Normally prescribed to individuals with narcolepsy or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), these amphetamines help to reduce the severity of symptoms that include hyper-activity, inattentiveness and impulsivity, thus allowing patients to better focus on the completion of daily tasks requiring extended or prolonged hours of concentration.
“I’ve had ADHD my whole live and have been taking drugs like Vyvanse since my diagnosis in the third grade. Although I don’t take it on a regular basis, I do take it when I know I have a major test, or need to get a lot work done,” said Jonathan Vallecillo, a third-year PUBP major.
With the pace of life progressively speeding up, more and more students are taking on heavier work loads with shorter deadlines and quicker turnarounds than before.
In an effort to take advantage of the medicine’s side-effects, students unlike Vallecillo, who have not been diagnosed with either disorder, have begun taking similar medications to help them stay focused and awake while pulling off all-nighters.
Following a growing trend among colleges across the nation, many Tech students ignore both doctors’ and administrators’ repeated warnings that only those who have been prescribed particular medications should take them, warning that dosages vary from person to person and that severe reactions can occur.
Many students simply ignore the health risks, such as addiction, severe migraines and cardiac arrest, that can come with taking non-prescribed attention deficit medication and focus on the more rewarding aspects that enable them to complete last minute assignments.
Not only does this create a growing health concern, it also creates an even greater legal issue. Because of the ease with which the drug can be passed around, many students can obtain the medicine through friends or fellow students who actually have the prescription and who then have the ability to turn around and have the prescription refilled as soon as necessary.
Small underground markets have emerged within various college campuses across the country, with students selling individual pills for upwards of fifty dollars a capsule.
“I honestly couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked for my medication, because I’ve been asked so many times. It’s not as bad during the year, but it becomes annoying during finals week when I get a hundred texts asking me for a pill or two,” Vallecillo said.
While Adderall, Vyvanse and other similar medications may not be as deadly as other prescriptions, the re-sale of prescription drugs is a criminal act, punishable by federal law.
Another prevailing issue is emerging is whether or not this issue can be considered cheating. While there are students who choose to take the medications without a prescription, there are also a large number of students not diagnosed with ADHD or an associative disease choosing not to partake in the growing trend, feeling that it creates an unfair advantage among their peers.
“I don’t think it’s fair that kids not prescribed the medications are taking them. It’s on the same level as steroids, which counts as cheating if you ask me,” said Chris Carver, a fourth-year EE major.