Illegally using prescription stimulants to study for exams and write papers is as much a college experience as living in the dorms or underage drinking. At least that’s what many metro college students will tell you about a brand-name drug prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Despite an ignorance of legal ramifications and potential dangers associated with abusing the psychostimulant medication Adderall, students say they are selling, purchasing and giving away the drug in the Oklahoma City metro.
“I knew tons of people who took Adderall to study, and plenty who would admit it nonchalantly,” said Todd, a former University of Oklahoma student who once used the drug to stay alert for 48 hours.
Similar to Ritalin and Dexedrine, Adderall increases the presence of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, enabling users to focus easily. Students said that it allows them to study, or write papers for extended periods of time without losing interest or falling asleep.
The federal government classifies the substance with cocaine and morphine for its high potential for abuse. Depending on the amount, abusers face a potential felony charge under the Controlled Substances Act for acquiring of a Schedule II drug without a prescription.
Tamara Reeves of the University of Central Oklahoma Student Counseling Center acknowledged treating students for Adderall abuse, even though college kids can be reluctant to seek help. Since negative side effects don’t often manifest immediately, Reeves estimated that 80 percent of students receiving Adderall counseling have experienced a legal infraction or parental insistence for support.
Although estimates vary for Adderall abuse rates, a 2005 study of 119 American colleges published in Addiction journal found that up to 25 percent of respondents reported abusing medication for ADHD in the previous year.
Similarly, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University reported in a March 2007 study that the prevalence of prescription stimulant abuse by college students increased 93.3 percent between 1993 and 2005, to 225,000 students nationwide.
“Students use Adderall and ADHD drugs in general to stay up for long times to study and focus, especially during midterms and finals,” said Mark Woodward, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs spokesman.
Students said Adderall pills can sell for anywhere between $1-$10 per 10 milligrams, depending on proximity to exams.
“I’m not sure of the regular rate, but I definitely got paid well for it in the past,” said Robbie, who said he has a prescription for Adderall, and is currently a student at OU Health Science Center. He said he’s stopped selling, but in the past he would sell it cheaply or give it away to friends.
“It also kinda depends on how well you know the guy selling,” Todd said.