Students speed through exams

That magical, fix-all pill just got easier to swallow.Students are looking to Adderall, a drug prescribed to people with ADD and ADHD, to manage their workload.”People use Adderall toward the end of the semester when papers and tests are piling up,” junior Ellen Sears said.Adderall attaches to specific receptors in the brain that are linked to the ability to really focus, director for the Center of Health and Wellbeing Dr. Jon Porter said.”If you want good grades, you have to put the work in, so people take Adderall because it gives them the physical capability and concentration to do copious amounts of work,” sophomore Kelly Walsh said.Although it is most commonly abused during finals, students say they take it throughout the year as well, according to one junior CDAE major, who wished to remain anonymous.”All my friends do it, and not everyone, but most people I know do it, too. I just got five pills upstairs [in the library],” he said. “It is also really easy to fake ADD to get Adderall, which a lot of people do. Out of my group of friends, five kids are prescribed it and none of them have ADD.”Porter said that he is concerned about the ease with which students are getting prescriptions.”We in the medical community have to make sure that the diagnosis is arrived at in a very rigorous way,” Porter said. “We want to know we aren’t masking other issues.”People with underlying issues that they may be unaware of, particularly structural heart issues, high blood pressures and arrhythmias, could have negative reactions with the medication, he said.Porter said that this is an important reason that people need to see a doctor and get a proper diagnosis before taking Adderall or other medications not prescribed to them.Although most people get Adderall through a friend with a prescription or get a prescription themselves, it is standard to pay about $2 for every 10 mg if you’re buying it from someone you don’t know, junior Ellen Sears said.Since drugs started to be advertised as a solution to numerous disorders on television, taking medication has been normalized, Diana Gonzalez, UVM drug and alcohol educator, said.”[Students have] grown up with television ads saying, ‘If you have this problem, just take this!'” Gonzalez said. Gonzalez is concerned that the “medicalization” of daily life makes it easier for people to take a prescription pill, even if its not prescribed for them.”I have ADD and it sucks to have to take medicine. It reduces your appetite and keeps you awake. It doesn’t seem like it’s worth it at all to take it if you don’t have to,” sophomore Nash Hall said. “There has got to be a better way to get your studying done than taking pills,” he said. Adderall is not only used for helping to get through that 20-page paper, but also recreationally.”I take it [while] drinking,” the junior CDAE major said. “You can snort it or just take it as a pill and basically it just gives you [an] adrenaline rush. You are pretty happy, nothing can piss you off and it makes you more focused.”However, this type of abuse is one of Porter’s main worries.”Combined with alcohol and cocaine, it can predispose people to cardiac arrhythmias, especially if it is used in significant amounts,” Porter said.Side effects of Adderall can include the inability to sleep,  sleep disruption, weight loss and dangerously high heartrates.Gonzalez said that there has been minimal research regarding Adderall’s long-term effects.”Not only are we talking about people are misusing the drug because it’s not prescribed to them, they also don’t have studies to see the effects,” she said.In addition to the physical effects of the drug, Gonzalez is aware of the additional social side effects.”If people are relying on an outside source, like Adderall, as their path to the academic performance, they think they will only get it from that pill,” she said. “You are giving up power and making your performance not about you — it takes away your ability to believe in yourself.”Gonzalez said that she feels the prevalence of study drug abuse does not fit into the goal of the UVM community.”If we are a school that believes in academics, that means we don’t take drugs to do our academics,” she said.