Attention Desperate

In Arts & Life /

By Vicki Kuglin

Transitioning into second semester after a long holiday means struggling to stay awake in class. An internationally recognized ADHD expert said that students are turning to the prescription drug Adderall to increase their focus.

“It’s a stimulant. It diminishes appetite and sleep. For people who are trying to do better in school, who cram and pull all-nighters, Adderall XR serves their purposes,” said Dr.Umesh Jain, the founder of the Canadian ADHD Resource Alliance.

Adderall is an amphetamine/ dextroamphetamine-type drug that is usually prescribed for those with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). The drug is a combination of stimulants that helps to treat hyperactivity and concentration issues.

However, it quickly turned into a perfect solution for students trying to cram assignments, studying, and social lives into 24 hours. With sleep out of the equation, students are able to pop a pill, get minimal sleep and hit the ground running in the morning.

“But it can be dangerous,” Jain said. “If you take too much, it might make you hallucinate. ‘Normal’ people might have more side effects.”

These side effects can range from loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, depression and/or changes in sexual desire.

“It sounds like a good solution,” said Sahel Tahvildari, a first-year architecture student. “But at the same time, it’s not. I would consider taking it, just because of how many nights we as architecture students spend without sleep, and how we can’t function the next day. But it’s a scary thing because you might get addicted to it.”

“It’s people’s choice to take whatever they want, as long as they understand the risks of taking Adderall. I wouldn’t criticize someone who took it, but I wouldn’t do it,” says Matt Gelowitz, another first-year architecture student.

“It’s a sad story of people in desperation,” said Jain. “People take short ways of getting around the basic issue: take your life seriously.”

Jain said passing a controlled substance to a friend is dangerous.

“They might have an underlying cardiovascular condition. People like high performance athletes are at risk, because they have bigger hearts. Give them an Adderall, and they might have a spontaneous heart attack and die.”

Without a prescription, users are skipping the vital step of consulting their doctor to see if they have any conditions or health concerns that might trigger a negative reaction when using Adderall.

“Amphetamine with their coffee in the morning, and a toke at night. That’s the life of a university student,” said Jain.

Photo: Steven Goetz

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