NOVEMBER 18, 2011
focus: Our addiction to
Adderall’s expanding inﬂuence Adderall’s presence has become increasingly visible this year at Bellevue High. A frightening number of students are turning to the medication as a means of overcoming high academic expectations, often without considering the physical ramiﬁcations of taking an amphetamine. ADDISON WOOLSEY Co-Editor in Chief
warns that “overusing dextroamphetamine and amphetamine [may] cause sudden death or serious heart problems such as heart attack or stroke.” The user who gave this description added that “it feels like really mild cocaine dose.” People diagnosed with ADHD have reduced dopamine flow to the frontal cortex, and Adderall increases that flow, allowing them to operate with the same focus as people who have normal dopamine flow. Those who already have normal dopamine flow who use Adderal increase motivation and their ability to focus, but risk dependency far more than prescription patients. “I feel really on edge sometimes and paranoid, but once you get your mind focused on something, it’s hard to change your train of thought,” an anonymous student user said, who claims he took between 20 and 40 milligrams each time he uses – a dosage comparable to or larger than the typical prescription dosage. “I think the [increased use of Adderall] reflects issues that need to be addressed by staff, administrators and students alike, such as homework overload and high stress” an anonymous BHS teacher said. They went on to add that they suspected at least one of their students was dealing the drug, and that the wide demand for it is being met by student dealers. To reduce the widespread illegal usage of Adderall, steps must be taken in educating students in the health risks of illegally taking the drug as well as the criminal charges that can come from its usage. Adderall is labeled a Schedule II Controlled Substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency, putting it in the same category as Morphine, oxycodone and raw opium. Illegal possession with intent to distribute these substances can lead to up to a $10,000 fine and ten years in prison. “It is too bad, we need to do something with the balance of work at this school,” a BHS teacher said. Overwork and high stakes testing may cause students to use this drug illegally, but it will take education on the dangers of its use to stop its growth.
“Regulating dopamine levels is not something to be taken lightly. I’ve only ever sold when people absolutely needed it, but couldn’t afford a perscription for everyday use.” – student dealer
GRAPHIC BY VANDAN KASAR
s the importance of high scores on standardized tests for college admissions has increased, students have been driven down new paths in the search for success. In addition to rigorous preparatory classes and dense study guides, many students, at Bellevue High School and high schools across the country, are now turning to Adderall, an amphetamine used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), whether they have prescriptions or not. “I probably sell about 20 pills a month, but the number definitely increases around finals and AP tests,” an anonymous student dealer at BHS said. This dealer told us that their supply came directly from a doctor, as they had been diagnosed with ADD. Adderall sells for roughly $5 a pill at schools in the Bellevue School District, according to student buyers at BHS, Interlake, and Sammamish High. A dealer we spoke with at BHS says that it is their second most frequently sold illegal drug after marijuana. “Out of all the kids that take it, I would guess somewhere around 75 percent of them don’t have a prescription,” the anonymous dealer said. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine in the drug affects the nervous system, increasing focus and helping users remain still and calm. Because of this effect, many students are using the drug with hopes of higher test scores. “Four months after my first SAT, I took it again while on Adderall and had a 170 point increase in my score,” an anonymous student, who purchased the drug illegally, said. Adderall’s ability to increase focus and improve studying habits has led to its mass popularity in universities across the country. A study by the University of Wisconsin concluded that approximately 25 percent of the student body had previously used Adderall illegally for recreation, either as a party drug or for a study session, students at BHS have described the effects as similar to a mild dose of cocaine. “I don’t think students using it illegally know about the risks of taking it. They just take it because they think it’ll help them score higher,” senior Moonsoo Kim, who has ADD and has a prescription for the drug. Students at BHS taking Adderall without prescriptions whom we spoke with were surprisingly unaware of the large number of short-term side effects, which include increased irritability, changes in personality, difficulty falling or staying asleep, and uncontrollable shaking. In addition, students taking it without a prescription risk taking the wrong dosage, and an overdose can be fatal – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
PRESCRIBED: This is a mock-up of a doctor’s prescription blank, used to legally perscribe medicine.