Eight pages, four hours.

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My experience on Adderall and learning its risks

Drugs are used and often abused in the college environment. Very commonly, marijuana is the drug that people spread around to each other. But there is one drug that has been gaining popularity among college students: Adderall. The amphetamine that is prescribed to people with an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It’s not a recreational-purpose drug per se, but students use it to stay laser-focused for upcoming exams and papers.  

Last semester, in a desperate attempt to finish an eight-page research paper the night before it was due, I was able to get a hand on a 25 milligram dose of Adderall from someone I knew. I paid about $8 for the pill, but the price varies depending on who is selling it (usually between $8-12). I never questioned the legitimacy of the pill because some of my friends have taken it before, and they all bought it from the same seller. Within the first 10 minutes of ingesting the pill, I thought for a second that I got scammed. In reality though, the effect of Adderall does not kick in right away. It felt more like a gradual process that builds up momentum as you study or write your paper.  

The first thing that I did was outline what I wanted to include in my paper. For an eight-page paper, you would imagine that the preparation would take at least an hour or an hour and a half. However, Adderall allowed me to outline my paper in less than 30 minutes. I was able to look at a specific passage in a book and formulate my argument. Then I would look to another class reading and write down the ideas I wanted to use from it. I kept repeating that process, and everything made sense while I was on Adderall.

You know the concept of writer’s block, where you just can’t think of anything else to write anymore? Well, that doesn’t exist on Adderall. Even if two passages didn’t seem to relate, somehow I felt that I could create a connection between the two and make an argument. Typically, it takes me one hour or so to write one page of quality content, but on Adderall I cut my writing time down by half and wrote one quality page per 30 minutes. My fingers didn’t stop typing, and the ideas just continued to flow through until I got to the final word.

Not once did I feel the urge to check my social media accounts such as Facebook or Twitter for a single second. My distractions were blocked away, and it was easy to say no to the usual websites that would waste an hour of precious time. What’s funny is that you are conscious with the fact that you aren’t distracting yourself; like there is an acknowledgment with yourself that you aren’t watching funny cat videos on YouTube. But at the same time, I didn’t have the mindset of, “Well, I can just watch one video and then go back to my paper.”

Adderall is a powerful drug, and I eventually got an A on the paper. But I wouldn’t recommend taking it often to propel your way through college, if at all to be honest. Even though it was my first time using the drug, I constantly felt dehydrated and even nauseous if I wasn’t drinking water. Also, the effect of Adderall could last between four to six hours depending on the dose. If you complete a paper before the dose is over, you feel the need to continue to occupy yourself with some other activity. I finished my paper before the effects wore down, and I had trouble going to sleep for a while after.

There are also potential side effects of using Adderall that I was careless to think about, but something everyone should be aware about before taking it. According to the American Addiction Centers, Adderall can permanently change your brain’s natural reward circuitry. When Adderall is used, the brain’s level of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine is increased. Those are the neurotransmitters that are responsible for emotions and feelings of pleasure. The more that someone uses Adderall, there is a higher chance that the drug will become a dependency and it can lead to addiction. Also, the more an individual uses it, he or she will build up tolerance for the drug.  It will take more doses of Adderall in order for heavy users to feel the same desired effects as someone who just started using it. The direct result of higher doses of Adderall can lead to appetite suppression, according to drugabuse.com. Not to mention, it can also cause irritability such as sudden itchiness throughout certain parts of the body. Worst of all, taking Adderall can potentially cause damage to the heart and the cardiovascular system. There is a risk of sudden cardiac death if it is overused.

Even without the negative side effects, I also didn’t consider the consequences of obtaining Adderall without a legal prescription. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) considers Adderall a Schedule II controlled substance, a category that includes cocaine and meth. The possession, distribution and manufacturing of Adderall are all considered a felony. Even if it’s just one pill, and you don’t have a prescription, it is still considered a felony, and can lead you to prison for up to five years.  

I didn’t do as much research on the effects and the legality of Adderall until after I have used the drug. Although my experience might have been positive for the most part, there is a high risk of potential harm that I could do to my body if I continue to use it. It is also frightening to know that I could have faced prison time if I was caught. Adderall serves a real purpose in helping children and adults with ADHD to increase their attention span, concentration and focus. For recreational users, it’s not a necessity but it’s more of a way to take advantage of the drug’s ability to enhance attention. Nonetheless, for the people who want to use Adderall recreationally, be cautious of it.  You have to really consider what is the lesser evil and then approach it from there. For me, I was tunnel visioned and used it to get my paper done in time. If I had done all this research beforehand, I probably would have said no to it.