The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Newby: The effect of Adderall on abusers is staggering

North Johnston High School senior Paula Luper, right, 18, takes a Principles of Business quiz in the teachers lounge so that she can avoid distraction, May 24, 2007, in Micro, North Carolina. Luper, who was diagnosed with ADHD in elementary school, uses this method for focusing while at school. (Juli Leonard/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT)

The effect of Adderall on people without ADHD can result in addiction, and its abuse needs to be taken more seriously.

Taylor Newby

[email protected]

With the quiet start of finals week settling over countless college campuses across the country, the even quieter exchange between buyer and seller of mixed amphetamine salts resounds with an estimated 6.5 million nonmedical users of prescription drugs, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health — including college students, who use one drug in particular to boost productivity.

As students begin steering their studies into a swift wrap-up, the Schedule 2 illegal substance overwhelms college campuses everywhere — and the abuse of this drug needs to stop in order for thousands of lives to be saved.

The drug? Adderall.

The prominence of this drug is part of its power — it’s in the library, where students lay out their schedules and begin fervently studying the material making up their final exams. It’s on the Pentacrest, where countless students sprawl in the sunshine and prepare for the pending week; in the streets of downtown Iowa City, crowded with patios and tables topped with textbooks; and at spring concerts, where cupped hands are thrust toward another person, offering small blue pills to “keep the party going.”

Adderall made its heavy début in the ’90s, when it was offered as a resolution for the 9.4 percent of children who have ever had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. ADHD is one of the most common mental-health disorders that affects children between the ages of 6 to 17 by impairing their ability to focus and remain organized. ADHD affects things as simple as day-to-day schedules, assignments, tasks, and can even affect relationships.

Of these 6.1 million children, 60 percent have become adults with ADHD — approximately 4 percent of the adult population — and they, too, are prescribed Adderall to help their focus, ground their thoughts, and give them the power over their own lives.

And so, with the purpose of the drug came the problematic abuse of the drug. Where the design of the drug was made for helping rather than hurting, the abuse reveals just what Adderall is capable of — complete destruction.

Because there is no known, definitive cause for ADHD, there is no standardized clinical test to diagnose it. Therefore, those in search of the amphetamine can simply answer the standard questions of “Do you get distracted easily?” or more similar, and, most of the time, can find themselves with a prescription for the Schedule 2 drug — falling in the same rank as cocaine and crystal meth.

When the symptoms are faked, the outcome is devastating. According to a 2016 survey over Adderall on college campuses done by Elite Daily, four out of every five people using Adderall experience two or more negative side effects — being loss of appetite, a dry mouth, insomnia, and some even begin grinding their teeth. Nearly half of those surveyed felt anxiety-ridden, and a quarter reported feeling sad or depressed.

Yet, the harsh and dangerous reality is — not many people see Adderall as addictive and destructive as it really is. And, as the public, we should.

According to Addiction Center, over time, those habitually using Adderall develop a tolerance to the drug and are unable to function normally without it. And the DEA says chronic abuse of Adderall results in psychosis resembling schizophrenia — paired with hallucinations, paranoia, and violent behavior.

This is not normal, and this is not OK. And Adderall should be considered more seriously than it is. Part of the problem is the societal desensitization toward the drug — its effects are underestimated. Though Adderall can be a good thing for those who need it, it can have an entirely opposite effect on those who don’t.


More to Discover