The Collegian
Saturday, April 13, 2024

An academic Adderall addiction

With today's beauty standard at an unforgiving, all-time high, people go to great lengths to modify their appearances.

In a world where it is possible to go from looking like a falcon to looking like a model in less than a few hours of surgery, people are chomping at the bit to look "better."

Comparable to wanting to look physically "better," people (especially young people) are craving "better" minds with higher (seemingly unrealistic) capabilities. That's where "cosmetic neurology" comes into play.

In an article published by The New Yorker, the term "cosmetic neurology" is attributed to Anjan Chatterjee, a neurologist at the University of Pennsylvania. The article details how Chatterjee uses the term "cosmetic neurology" to "describe the practice of using drugs developed for recognized medical conditions to strengthen ordinary cognition."

Adderall and Ritalin, commonly prescribed to youth with attention deficit disorder (with or without hyperactivity), is no longer exclusive to the what? who? wait, what? community. The pills, which come in various shapes, sizes and colors, as well as rapid release and extended release forms, have become very popular on college campuses. So much so, 8:15 at Boatwright may have to watch its back, or figure out an alternative. "Would you like an extra shot of Adderall with that venti, decaf, nonfat, two-pump, no whip mocha?"

In reality, young people who are swamped with schoolwork, real work, extracurricular work and social work (whichever way you want to interpret that) seem to view Adderall and Ritalin as a way to make all of these things and more possible.

Why stress about life when you could just embrace it in one giant gulp, right? If only it were that simple. According to an article on "smart drugs" by NPR, Martha J. Farah, director at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania, said that excessive use of pills like Adderall and Ritalin can lead to serious sleep, heart and addiction issues. Farah said the drugs trick the brain into creating a false sense of extra-motivation, ultimately leaving the body exhausted and craving more pills.

My personal relationship with the drug is from what I hear people saying around campus. I can't walk through the library without hearing, "Nah man, I'm gonna stay ... just took some Adderall." My favorite quote, by far, still has to be, "Adderall, coffee and a NOZ; I'm about to shit my brains out."

I beg to differ, sir. If I'm correct, I believe your brain is so stimulated right now, your body couldn't shit it out, even if it wanted to.

To me, the issue at hand isn't the increased popularity of the prescription drugs, but rather the reasoning behind the excessive "need" for their use. If you ask around campus, a majority of students who take Adderall or Ritalin illegally say it's the only way for them to finish all of their assignments and projects on time.

Of course as is the case with almost every medication, there are those who truly abuse Adderall and Ritalin. And yes, there are those who choose to swallow or snort it on weekends to get high because they feel tired after drinking his or herself into a coma-like stupor. But for those who are using the drug to complete assignments that otherwise couldn't be completed by a normal human, I say take a step back and assess all of your options.

I can't stress enough, the importance of having an open dialogue with all of your professors. Let them know how much work you have in all of your classes and how it's affecting your life and mental health. Tired students do crazy things. Crazy students do scary things. Let's try to not find out what scary students do.

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