Students look to Adderall for increased grades

Nearly a third of UW-Whitewater students have illegally taken Adderall, but an alarming 51 percent have thought about taking the unprescribed drug at least once.

UW-Whitewater Police Sgt. Faye Schouten said illegal amphetamine use is a growing problem on campus.

“Once [amphetamine] is on campus, it’s accessible,” Schouten said. “And because it’s a prescription drug people don’t see it as an illegal substance.”

Adderall is a psychostimulant prescribed for either Attention Defecit Disorder or Attention Defecit Hyperactivity Disorder.

According to the 236 students surveyed by the Royal Purple, Adderall helps many of them concentrate and stay focused in class.

The other top reasons students said they have taken or would take Adderall is to increase grades and keep motivated.

Photo by Kaitlynn Parrott

Some students also reported suppressed hunger, which led to weight loss. Although weight loss may be viewed as a positive, University Health and Counseling Services Physician Donene Rowe said the rapid weight loss is unhealthy.

“People like the side effects of Adderall, especially the college age group,” Rowe said. “I have concerns about the misuse of Adderall in general because it is easy to misuse.”

Schouten agreed and said people who are not prescribed the drug do not know how it is going to interact with other medications they are taking. Students also don’t know how it will mix with alcohol and other drinks.

“It’s just not healthy,” Schouten said. “When people are up for days and days trying to stay focused we end up with personal injuries, anger issues and

sleep deprivation issues.”

Rowe said Adderall and other prescription drugs are the most abused drugs in the U.S. Surprisingly, only 61 percent of students surveyed were aware of the Adderall abuse on campus.

Misuse of the analeptic drug is a concern for many doctors and other health specialists.

“For those with ADHD it definitely helps,” Rowe said. “However, for those without ADHD, I do think it is an unfair boost. It’s like using any other enhancing drug for anything you do.”

Schouten said  it is dangerous having people sell the drug on campus. Those caught selling will face the full penalities of selling drugs.

“We will investigate to the fullest just as a regular drug dealing,” Schouten said.

Of those surveyed who answered yes to  getting the drug illegally, 83 percent of students reported getting the drug through a friend on campus.

UHCS Drug Abuse Counselor James Sauer said a lot of people hear the word abuse and think it’s an ongoing thing, when in fact, more students use it sporadically.

“The other thing that’s very common is ‘I get my hands on a few pills and I sell them or I trade them,’” Sauer said. “There is a street value. It’s not as great a street value as a lot of the opiates that we’re seeing today, but there still is a street value and a trade value.”

The stresses of student life, like maintaining a high GPA, can drive students into regular abuse patterns with not only Adderall, but other psychostimulant drugs as well, Sauer said.

Schouten said many students don’t know that it is illegal to carry prescription pills outside their proper bottles.

“A lot of times people will take an extra pill with them and they’ll just throw some in those weekly pill containers,” Schouten said. “It’s actually illegal to do that. If you’re going to have the medication, you have to have it in the proper bottle.”

Ben Holzhueter contributed to this article

Jami Puth contributed to this article.