US survey has suggested that college students are illegally boosting
their brainpower by using ‘smart drugs’ like Ritalin and Adderall.
Alan DeSantis, professor of Communications at the University of Kentucky, decided to study
the use of drugs like Ritalin and Adderall because he was surprised to
hear so many of his students talking about taking them. He found that among nearly 2,000 U. of K. undergrads surveyed, 34 percent said they had taken them without a prescription and that the percentage rose, as students got closer to graduation.
“If you were to ask what percentage of juniors and seniors are using ADHD
stimulants, the number is well above 50, pushing 60 percent,” CBS News
quoted him as telling “60 Minutes” correspondent Katie Couric.
“Add in juniors and seniors who are in fraternities and sororities, the number is up [to] 80 percent,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis says nearly all the respondents said the drugs improved their scores by one or two letter grades.
According to DeSantis, 4 percent of undergrads at the University of Kentucky have
legal prescriptions for ADHD stimulants and those students often have
leftover pills they give or sell to their fellow students, like Lauren,
a junior at the University
“I’ve taken them to study for tests and write papers….If I’m not on
Adderall, I’ll read something and I’m not really interested at all,”
she explained how the drugs work for her.
“But then you take an Adderall and you…all of the sudden are just totally consumed in what you are doing,” she told Couric.
Scott, another U. of K. student, who says he does not take these drugs, understands why others do.
trying to get an edge…if you can take a pill that will help you study
all night to get that grade you need…a lot of people don’t see why
they wouldn’t do it,” he said.
Scientists, like Dr. Nora Volkow,
director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, point out that
stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin can cause heart trouble and raise blood pressure.
She says the long-term effects of people without attention deficit disorder using such drugs are not known and she has another concern.
“The reality is there are side effects of these drugs,” Volkow said. “One of them is addiction, but another one can be psychosis, so it’s not worth the risk,” she stated.
U. of K. student Catherine, who says she does not use smart drugs, raises another question.
“I feel that it’s an unfair advantage,” she told Couric.
“If the person next to me…can stay up the entire night and know the
material and come in and make a better grade than me,” she added. (ANI
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