I’ve been staring at a blank screen for five minutes while my mind drifts far off topic. As I sit on a folded-down futon with my back against the hard wall of a Markley dorm room it is clear that productivity left me long ago. It’s four in the morning and sleep-deprivation is taking effect; what normally would take me an hour is taking two, and with three hours of an essay remaining my night is shaping up to be sleepless. I turn to my right to see my friend furiously typing away at a reading response and ask, “How are you still working?” He doesn’t hear me. Giving him a nudge and asking again he snaps out of his trance, and answers with the same word being whispered on college campuses around the nation. “Adderall.”
The U.S. National Library of Medicine describes Adderall as, “The Combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine is used as part of a treatment program to control symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; more difficulty focusing, controlling actions, and remaining still or quiet than other people who are the same age) in adults and children.” Rather scholarly and scientific sounding right? On campus it takes a bit of a different shape (the following quotes are taken from urbandictionary.com) being defined as, “The only way to finish homework” “The blue pill that, once you snort it, you can’t get enough of that shit” and “The reason that every teenager, college kid, and meth head suddenly has ADHD.” To say that there are different opinions on the drug is an understatement, but whether you curse or praise Adderall there’s no denying the government is responsible for its legality.
The “study drug” (as it is commonly called) has had a rocky history in the medical field. The little pills common side effects include dizziness, headache, loss of appetite, nervousness, stomach pain, vomiting, weakness, and that’s without delving into the severe side effects. In 2005, Canada took Adderall off the market due to a concern of sudden unexpected death in children. To top it off ADD and ADHD, the conditions that Adderall is designed to treat are controversial topics in the medical field, as some professionals don’t believe they exist. While these arguments continue to take place millions of people fill up their prescription every year.
Obtaining an Adderall prescription isn’t exactly sneaking into Fort Knox, and those that aren’t prescribed generally buy it from a friend that is. As numerous signs highlight potential health risks one must wonder: Where is the government in this situation? Despite the lack of long-term medical studies on Adderall it remains a candy that college kids in a time-crunch can’t get enough of.
Controversial drugs, such as Adderall, serve as a vehicle to examine the restrictions, or lack thereof, on the pharmaceutical drugs we consume. Should Adderall be taken off the market until studies can determine its long-term health risks? At what point does the FDA’s concern for safety turn into a restriction on our rights as American citizens?