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Neuroenhancing Drugs

October 5, 2012

Neuroenhancing Drugs

On Wednesday October 3rd in class we talked about the prevalence of Adderall and Ritalin in children’s lives in recent years. The discussion was mostly focused on mothers and their role in determining if their children need help focusing. I however want to focus this post more on the use/abuse college kids have of these drugs. I found an article from The New Yorker titled “ Brian Gain: The Underground World of ‘Neuroenhancing’ Drugs” that talks about the secret presence of Adderall in college communities and the uses students have for it.

I have been in college for three full years now and though this time I can say I have encountered Adderall and many other “neuroenhancing” drugs on many different occasions. These drugs are incredibly abused and over-used by a large amount of students. This article talks about how these drugs aren’t used by students to get to the top of their class. Instead they are used to help manage “school, romantic, sexual, extracurricular, resume-building, and academic commitments”. These drugs are for those “who are looking in some way to compensate for activities that are detrimental to their performance”.  I think all of us who have seen these drugs around campus can agree with these statements. Most of the students who use these drugs use it to catch up and pull all-nighters in order to survive the exam they have the next day. The misuse of these drugs has made it socially acceptable for students now entering college to not even try to succeed on their own. It has created a fad and I find that many people, who do not need these drugs, use them anyway.

These drugs and their prevalence in our society are important because they have created a subculture in college communities that have changed the course of many students’ careers. It is important for people to be aware of the things happening to our young adults since they are the future of our nation.

Claire Biglin

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 5, 2012 6:23 am

    I think the topic of neuroenhancing drugs is quite relevant to college students. Since my freshman year, there are always people clamoring to get their hands on Adderall in the weeks leading up to midterms and finals week. As someone who has spent plenty of time in the library throughout each term over the last few years, I can definitely say you can tell when people have reached “crunch time”. More people appear in the libraries, and the people in the libraries are also much more focused than on your average school day. In the response to the article, you wrote about how this has created a subculture in college communities. You also mention that these neuroenhancing drugs are being used to help manage normal facets of life. In response to that, I think that the subculture and the use of prescription pills to help people get through daily life stems from the culture we live in. As discussed in our lectures this term, the American attitude and solution to problems that we all face tend to be another pill. So, in that respect, it’s not surprising that students have turned to drugs like Adderall to help them compensate for their “deficits” and inability to focus when we are focused on multiple aspects of our life all day long.
    One thing came to mind after I read this had to do with the broader social influences on the neuroenhancing drug phenomena. I wonder how much the expectation of success, accomplishing more, doing better, being more involved, getting through school quicker, and all of the other social pressures our peers, parents, and future employers place on us has to do with students looking to Adderall as a solution for their focus issues. Of course, our social lives can get in the way of our academic life, and I think the college-mentality of needing to enjoy every moment, and to have as much fun as possible is an important problem to address. Since we spend so much time away from our homework and academic life, it’s no surprise that so many people get to the point where they have to cram for classes, and the only way they feel they can focus is via drugs.
    Another thing that comes to mind when thinking about the current Adderall abuse has to do with the acquisition of the drugs. People who have been prescribed Adderall apparently aren’t taking their medication like they’re supposed to because if they were, it would be much harder for students to obtain it. With respect to that thought, it kind of shows how the current mentality of just prescribing a pill to someone to fix their “problem” probably isn’t working very well because the people who are prescribed the drug are just turning around and selling their drugs to students who don’t actually need them. With that, I think there should be some consideration by medical health professionals who prescribe Adderall to students because they might be able to help prevent this subculture and dependence on neuroenhancing drugs from further developing.
    Overall, I think this topic is definitely something that needs to be addressed. Students should be learning how to manage the various activities they have going on in their life so that there is a balance that allow students to complete their coursework without assistance. I think the current subculture that is developing is a growing problem that is representative of a system in our current culture that is working properly. I thought your post was insightful, and that you did a good job of describing the current misuse and abuse of neuroenhancing drugs by college students on college campuses today.

    Tyler Brandt

  2. October 5, 2012 6:02 pm

    This post and the New Yorker article hit an important issue that affects not only students but the employers, professors, and their family. We have hit a point in our society where students will not fare better than their parents, despite how many extracurricular activities are required of them. Not only this, but extracurricular activities are vital in order to be accepted into graduate schools, which now hold the same standing that college held years before. “The misuse of these drugs has made it socially acceptable for students now entering college to not even try to succeed on their own. It has created a fad and I find that many people, who do not need these drugs, use them anyway.” This point is very true, the overload that most students have in school causes them to simply “get by” in class rather than strive to be the best they can be. Our culture of over-commitment as a work ethic is causing many workers and students to sink or swim as they work on the brink of a breakdown, and most of the time this breakdown ends up in the form of poor mental health. A point lost in companies is that we are humans and not machines. Everyone needs their rest and if our system of work is forcing some to take drugs in order to make it through the day, then the system needs to be re-evaluated and structured to promote good health. In the true words of Charlie Chaplin, “We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in.”

    Good work on bringing up this important issue, it is definitely something that all students and professors should be aware about.

    -Marija Brzev

  3. October 12, 2012 2:42 am

    I think the fact that students tend to use drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin to simply “catch up” on life says a lot about the expectations and perceived goals society seems to have on students nowadays. Like Marija pointed out, simply doing what our parents did is not cutting it in society anymore. We’re not only expected to participate in pretty much any and every extracurricular activities, but to have a social life, have a love life, and yes, get straight A’s. This is why I feel that dealing with the issue of Adderall and Ritalin abuse should start at simply looking at the environment an abuser is with and dealing with the why such a drug is being abused in the first place instead of simply the fact that it is being abused. We work our tails off trying to get straight A’s because we feel as if we won’t get anywhere in life with B’s. We add “just one more” extracurricular activity not because we enjoy it, but because we feel as if it makes our resume look well rounded. We go out, party, and get boyfriends/girlfriends because that’s what society says we’re supposed to be doing at this age. No wonder we’re so tired. We have every right to be tired. And no wonder so many students feel as if they need for neuroenhancing drugs. The problem doesn’t lie within the student abusing Adderall and Ritalin, but within the society making the student feel as if he or she needs to take such drugs just to keep up. Which makes me wonder if society’s expectations were more manageable, would such an issue even exist at such a prevalent rate?

    Camille Estabillo

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