Does Adderall mess with your mind?

It’s a well-known semi-secret fact that some students take study drugs to enhance their academic performance. And new articles are pointing out what should have been obvious — that taking prescription ADHD drugs when you do not have the disorder can cause psychological problems.

With more students able to buy the pills or to fake the symptoms to get a prescription, study drug abuse is considered a growing problem.

An ABC article points to a suicide of a Vanderbilt student last May as just one example of someone who used Adderall improperly, and on whom the drug worked in a negative way. Between 2000 and 2005, the FDA recorded about 1,000 cases of psychosis or mania associated with drugs like Aderall, according to ABC. Extended use of the drug has been linked to depressed mood, increased anxiety, and higher rates of aggression, psychosis and suicide, as well as the rare but irreversible onset of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Is getting an A on a midterm really worth the risk?


Study drugs: helpful tool or form of cheating?

Ritalin, a form of cheating? — Heather Stone / Chicago Tribune (MCT)

It’s a well-accepted fact that some students use a little more than coffee and hard work to get ahead on their school work. But recent changes to Wesleyan University’s Code of Non-Academic Conduct bring the (im)morality of study drugs to the fore.

This semester, Wesleyan updated its Code of Non-Academic Conduct to prevent “misuse or abuse” of prescription drugs, according to a report from Inside Higher Ed. While many schools have policies against the use of drugs not prescribed to the user, those policies are usually based on health concerns.

But it seems with this move from Wesleyan, the use of study drugs is being raised as a moral issue. The Honor Code at Wesleyan requires that academic work is completed “without improper assistance,” so the implication is that the use of non-prescribed stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin that keep students awake, alert and focused, is ethically wrong.

But the issue is still up for debate. David Leibow, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry in Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, quoted in Inside Higher Ed, called the ethical motivation behind the ban “dubious,” and compared their use with drinking coffee or simply having a better work ethic than other students.

So Blog readers, what do you think? Is using a pill to help you get through a paper or an exam a form of cheating? Or is it using an available resource to do well in school? Tell us in the comments! (And remember, they’re anonymous.)