Sometimes it’s to study, sometimes it’s to party. Particularly during midterms and finals week, but also at any other time of the year, hundreds of thousands of university students in the US take Adderall.

ADHD medications are sold in vast numbers at American universities, not by drug dealers in the traditional sense, but by normal, everyday students who are still on a family insurance plan and simply have a few pills to spare. Adderall is barely stigmatized, because it has come to be associated with good grades, focus, and prestige for everyone, whether they have a prescription or not.

The stimulating effects of the drug are highly appealing to the college age group, and its legal status makes it less intimidating, and more readily available, than stimulant street drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine. Hardworking students with zero ties to crime are likely to have at least one friend who sells or gives out ADHD pills.

In reality, the drug presents a lot of danger for those who are purchasing it illicitly or misusing it for fun or for an “edge” in the education department. Adderall is designed specifically to correct a brain defect. It work by increasing the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine to a proper level. It’s not meant for giving someone without ADHD an extra boost.

Many college students use Adderall recreationally as a party enhancer—a particularly dangerous act, since most are also drinking alcohol—but the primary drive in rising Adderall abuse rates seems to be an increase in stress among college students. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, full-time students are twice as likely to abuse Adderall (taking it without a prescription) for this reason. At elite universities, the numbers are substantially high.

The quick, effortless boost in motivation that Adderall offers, many students use to cram massive amounts of studying in short periods of time. The older the student, the closer they are to graduating, the more likely they are to abuse ADHD medication. 30 percent of all college students use one of these medications non-medically.

On the DEA’s list, Adderall is a Schedule II substance, right alongside methamphetamine, a drug with very similar, albeit less powerful, effects. Dosages are assigned carefully and cautiously by doctors; those who purchase the drug illicitly have no idea how much to take. They shouldn’t be taking any, in fact. People without ADHD who take Adderall experience affects, a hyperactive state far different that which legitimate ADHD sufferers experience while on the medication. Even short-term nonmedical Adderall use can cause sleep difficulties, headaches, irritability, depression, loss of appetite, and physical dependence.

Educating college students on this problem can be difficult, because you’re speaking against self-assurance. A large number of college students abuse Adderall at some point, and most of them probably found the drug to be helpful: it got them that A on that test. The key may be explaining that this strategy isn’t sustainable. Long-term productivity in life requires time management skills and an understanding of when too much is too much. It is well known in the field of psychology that perfectionism, the determination to take on more demands than you can handle, is a major cause of depression in youth. Adderall abuse, and the anxiety it creates, appears to make this worse, leading to mental breakdowns and self-destructive behavior in many students who become addicted.

To learn more about ADHD medications, please explore our website. If you’re unsure of whether it’s safe for you or a loved one to take Adderall, please give us a call at 800-910-9299 to discuss the matter with a licensed specialist.