By: Joshua Smith
Because college is not a mandatory institution, it is safe to say that most
undergraduate students are furthering their education by choice. In today’s fast paced,
fuel-driven society it can be incredibly difficult to succeed without a degree. In fact, it is
safe to say that our generation has come to think of college and graduate school as an
obligatory step towards success. While there is nothing wrong with having ambition or
striving to meet goals, many students have been turning to Attention Deficit medication
in order to stay up and focus on their work.
As curious children we worried less about having the best grades and were more
interested in fun and games. Over the course of time we grew out of our simple-minded
perspectives and into an advanced demanding society where who we are and what we
know determines how far up the social-class ladder we are able to climb. College
students have become the ultimate multi-taskers, most of whom are balancing
extracurricular activities, social lives and a job on top of their hectic course schedules.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) is a condition resulting in
symptoms of inability to maintain attention, impulsive behaviors and/or motor
restlessness. Stimulants (medication used to treat AD/HD) increase alertness, attention,
and energy, as well as elevate blood pressure and increase heart rate and respiration.
Stimulants historically were used to treat asthma and other respiratory problems, obesity,
neurological disorders, and a variety of other ailments. But as their potential for abuse
and addiction became apparent, the medical use of stimulants began to wane. Now,
stimulants are prescribed for the treatment of only a few health conditions, including
narcolepsy, ADHD, and depression.
Stimulants, such as dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine and Adderall) and
methylphenidate (Ritalin and Concerta), have chemical structures similar to a family of
key brain neurotransmitters called monoamines, which include norepinephrine and
dopamine. Stimulants enhance the effects of these chemicals in the brain. Stimulants also
increase blood pressure and heart rate, constrict blood vessels, increase blood glucose,
and open up the pathways of the respiratory system. The increase in dopamine is
associated with a sense of euphoria that can accompany the use of these drugs.
As with illegal drugs, it is possible for individuals to become dependent upon, or
addicted to many stimulants. Withdrawal symptoms associated with discontinuing
stimulant use include fatigue, depression, and disturbance of sleep patterns. Repeated use
of some stimulants over a short period can lead to feelings of hostility or paranoia.
Further, taking high doses of a stimulant may result in dangerously high body
temperature and an irregular heartbeat. There is also the potential for cardiovascular
failure or lethal seizures.
Looking at the recreational stimulant drug taker, forget your image of the
stereotypical drug addict. The majority of non-prescribed, cognitive enhancement users
are far from the dirty junkies who are associated with illegal drugs like heroin and
crack/cocaine. Most stimulant abusers are college students, ranging from the
procrastinating students who cram it all in at the last minute to the over achievers who are
not satisfied with anything less than a 4.0 G.P.A. Whereas an athlete might turn to
steroids to get an extra boost to overshadow competition, students enhance their
academic abilities with stimulants. Unlike steroids, there have been no high-profile cases
that put a negative connotation on cognitive enhancing prescription drugs. Steroids have
been banned and outlawed in professional sports sending a message to the general public
that they are bad and their use will not be accepted or rewarded.
If we know that no one is perfect, then why are we so afraid to make mistakes?
We are young college students obsessed with reaching the finish line even before the race
has begun. Intelligence is far more than test scores, grades and what school you attend.
Our academic careers have taught us far more than just how to memorize facts. It brings
us face-to-face with the universal values of equality, diversity, responsibility and hard
honest work. So I say to college students, put away the stimulants and allow yourself to
truly be the best you can be. Embrace challenge, anything worth obtaining is worth
fighting for. We are in college to show what we are made of and to display our
commitment. We must remember, tenacity + patience = success.
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After alcohol and marijuana, both High and Low Risk SRs perceived the prescription stimulants AdderallÆ and
RitalinÆ to be the most
easily available drugs misused on campus.