As many colleges have become more selective, high school students have been under more pressure to take on extremely rigorous schedules to stay competitive in the college application process.
To keep up with their demanding schedules, some high school students have turned to prescription ADHD drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin. These drugs give students a “boost” that helps increase their focus and helps them to stay up late to complete their assignments.
These drugs are easy to get because it’s not uncommon for a student to be diagnosed with ADD or ADHD and prescribed the medications. From these diagnosed students, peers are able to buy the drugs.
Adderall and Ritalin are stimulants and considered a Schedule 2 drug by the Drug Enforcement Agency because of the high potential for abuse and addiction. The drug can cause physical and psychological dependence. Side effects include loss of appetite, irritability and insomnia.
One hundred and fifty MAST Academy students between 10th and 12th grade were anonymously asked if they take any stimulants to enhance their academic performance and/or increase focus.
Two seniors have anonymously come forward to talk about their use of these stimulants. The first student said that he started taking Adderall when he was 14.
“It was so easy to get. And each pill is about two dollars so it’s not too expensive to get a few every week,” the student said.
“The stress from school makes me want to take Adderall often, it makes it easier to concentrate and put out quality work rather than being stressed and unfocused. There’s so much to do for every class it’s hard to concentrate and work on something because you’re always thinking about the next thing”
“You need it to be efficient with your time. With sports and clubs there isn’t a lot of time for schoolwork so what little time you have you need to be efficient with it. I just don’t see another way to keep up with everything and still have time to sleep,” the other student said.
According to a study done by Monitoring The Future, an organization that studies the behavior of the American youth population in partnership with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 7.4 percent of high school seniors reported the using Adderall that was not prescribed to them. Of the MAST Academy students polled, 24 percent admitted to the non-medical use of stimulants.