Monday, May 6, 2013

When you hear the phrase “performance enhancing drugs” most likely anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, or maybe erythropoietin come to mind. They bring negative connotations of cheating and scandal. If performance enhancing drugs for the body bring about this reaction, why shouldn't performance enhancing drugs of the mind do the same? Adderall is an amphetamine in the drug class of stimulants that is the drug of choice for individuals who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD). Physiologically, Adderall increases alertness, reduces fatigue and drowsiness, causes excitement, motor restlessness, euphoria, and excitement. That being said it is easy to see why more people than just those diagnosed with ADHD are abusing Adderall. This stimulant gives students a “zeroed in” focus and allows them to stay awake and alert much longer than they would without the drug and make better grades then those who are not using a performance enhancer.

 It comes as no surprise that Adderall is becoming increasingly abused in high schools and then in universities around the country. According to the  Monitoring the Future Study, in 2012 “One drug class that showed some sign of increasing use this year was Adderall, but only among 12th graders”  (Johnston, L., O’Malley, P., Bachman, J., Schulenberg, J., 2012). Adderall also has the possibility for negative side effects including psychosis, hallucinations, insomnia, and dependence. Performance enhancing drugs with negative side effects are not allowed in athletics, why should they be allowed in academics?

I am aware that high school athletic drug testing is not even nationwide, so proposing academic drug testing might be farfetched. Instead of consequence management, I am proposing the idea of enforcing randomized Adderall drug testing in high schools throughout the country. With the increasing pressure and difficulty to get into college, it should be expected that the abuse of Adderall will only rise and carry on into universities. Adderall abuse does not compare with other abused drugs so preventive measures are necessary to keep this statistic low. Abusing a prescriptive drug to get ahead in academics is cheating and should be treated as such with the nipping in the bud before it gets out of control.

Adderall drug screening would take the form of a urine test. Adderall is detectable in urine for up to 4 days after use. Therapeutic use of Adderall is around .2 mg/L and therefore anything higher than this can be considered abuse (Addiction Blog, 2012). An example of a lethal addiction to academic success comes from Rick and Kathy Fee whose son, Richard Fee, became addicted to Adderall. Richard was admitted into a psychiatric hospital in 2011 and then hung himself not much longer after when his Adderall prescription ran out. Richard began using Adderall in college when he faked the symptoms of ADHD and was given a prescription. Richard was using Adderall to get ahead in his academics, but the psychotic properties of the drug got the best of him. If anyone knows the devastation that Adderall addiction can cause it is Rick and Kathy Fee. Stories like that of the Fee's sheds light on the ugly side effects of Adderall and could dissuade students from abusing Adderall for a possible academic payout. These real life examples could be used as an introduction to the new program and maybe dissuade students from Adderall abuse. For those "that would never happen to me" folk randomized Adderall drug testing surely would.

 While cheating in academics is a concern, plagiarizing or copying someone else’s answers do not have the severe health effects that Adderall does. Cheating is an impermissible problem, but protecting children’s health is detrimental. As a student, I am well aware of the ease of obtaining Adderall and the prevalence of abuse but would love to hear other opinions!


The National Institute on Drug Abuse, (2012). Monitoring the future study: a national survey by                Johnston, L., O’Malley, P., Bachman, J., and  Schulenberg, J.  Michigan: Institute For  Social                      Research

 Addiction Blog (2012). Does Adderall show up on drug tests? [blog] Retrieved from