From want to need for Adderall

Sunny Hong, Design Editor

In a coffee shop in Kenmore, Harold and I sit across from each other. With a Macbook in front of him and a pen in hand, he looks confident and at ease. A steaming cup of coffee sits between us. As I ask my first question, Harold smiles faintly. “Why did you begin taking Adderall?”

“Because I wanted to be better than other people: plain and simple,” Harold said.

Rigorous classes, brutal college admissions and staggering workloads mark the current education atmosphere. Many students around the nation are seeking the thing to help them wade through the overwhelming swamp of work to reach their dreams. For these ambitious students in distress, Adderall has become the easy pathway in gaining the academic edge to set them apart.

However, here is another plain and simple: relying on unnecessary drugs to gain unnatural success is unfair and unhealthy.

“Anytime you don’t need to take a drug, you shouldn’t,” psychology teacher Katrina Allemeier said. “ You’re just getting into bad habits.”

Millions of students around the nation, in high school and college alike, use unprescribed Adderall to reach the “bigger and better.” In order to determine the reasons behind unprescribed Adderall usage and its effects, I contacted a few Inglemoor students who were rumored to have used the drug. After several unsuccessful efforts, I was able to interview a male senior in IB under the pseudonym of “Harold.”

Harold has been using Adderall for a year. His unprescribed Adderall usage began with the pressure to succeed in his extracurricular activities.

“You don’t feel smarter, and you don’t feel better at anything. You just feel like you have a lot of energy,” Harold said. “You’re just able to focus better. ”

Without Adderall, Harold states that he could only study for an hour before he began procrastinating. However, while using Adderall, he was able to study for seven hours straight.

Adderall for Harold started with the attempt  to gain the academic edge; however, it has become more of a method to cope with the stress, procrastination, and motivation. This demonstrates how using the drug can lead from what initially seems helpful – reaching a desired goal or dream in academics – can lead to addiction, where a student takes Adderall to simply gain motivation.

“[Adderall] does have the potential for addiction and it is a controlled substance, a Schedule II drug, like meth,” school nurse Carol Ward said. “As you up the dose, then you tend to get more side effects too. It’s a slow dance [for medically prescribed users] to find the right medication and the right dose.”

Unprescribed Adderall usage is in no way confined to Inglemoor. In fact, Adderall misuse and abuse is a national phenomenon. Prestigious Ivy League universities have been dealing with Adderall outbreaks for years, and Adderall usage is increasing among high school students.

The drug surely provides the academic edge for students; however, there are various question one must ask before or while choosing to use Adderall. What are the side effects? Am I cheating by using a performance enhancing drug? How will this affect my future ability to be motivated?

“Did I start taking [Adderall] because I was stupid? Generally, no. Other people think I was stupid,” Harold said as we finished our interview.

Harold is an extremely accomplished student with solid high school accomplishments and great visions for his future. Though not all of his success is credited towards his usage of unprescribed Adderall, ironically the last thing he said before we stood up was how he planned to take Adderall the next day to finish his essay.