As a recent college graduate, and one who suffered from a severe case of undiagnosed ADD for the first two years of college, I found a recent news story a bit shocking.
The headline was something along the lines of "are college students starting to turn to ADHD medications to cram for exams?" To many, this might come as a surprise. To those who have been there, not so much. College students have been getting their hands on ADHD medications to cram for exams ever since I can remember. Medications such as Adderall make an all nighter seem easy. In fact, in a world where the work load exceeds the amount f hours in a day, such medications are often viewed as a miracle drug to many college students. You can cram for two exams all day and then are still able to stay up all night and write that 50 page research paper that you put off until the very last minute.
So, why does it come as such a shock to many that college students are taking these medications in order to improve their performance in school? Maybe it is because these drugs aren't supposed to be easily accessible to those without a prescription as they are, in fact, controlled substances. Well, from first hand experience I can say that accessing such drugs is much easier than many think. Most college students are able to see a Psychiatrist at their campus health center for a small price. Once a student expresses concern that he or she feels like they are suffering from ADD, they are usually given some sort of questionaire to fill out where they are able to rate their performance on certain tasks. For example, one statement might read "I have trouble reading a page in a book and remembering what I just read" and on a scale from 1 to 10 the student rates how relevant that statement is to his situation. Is it fair to say that as long as a student is smart enough to answer the questions accordingly, that he or she will soon have legal access to ADD drugs despite the fact that he or she may not really be suffering from such? And for those students who simply can't fathom going through the process of getting their own ADD drugs, chances are they know someone in their close circle of friends who will supply it for them. Of course, this is certainly not the case for all college students, myself included. How do I know all of this, though? Because I was there. I witnessed it, especially when midterms and finals were approaching.
The news story didn't shock me because of the issue, it shocked me because of what seems like such a late response by the media to a very serious and vastly growing problem among college students. I am reluctant to blame college students for abusing these drugs and more inclined to blame the doctors that make this process so easy for them. I mean, for students who are under pressure to be on the Dean's list every semester with the hope to one day get into Law or Medical school, why wouldn't they take a drug that made this process easier for them if they can get it? Perhaps it wouldn't be such an epidemic if the process of obtaining these drugs was just a little more regulated.