It was first assumed that kids were in danger of going to their parents liquor cabinet. Now it seems that the medicine cabinet is the new hot spot.
What was first known as a drug for young children with ADD or ADHD, has now turned to a students secret for getting As.
“This is a population that is really good at keeping it under wraps,” says Johanna Hammer, Clinical Therapist and Social Worker.
“For these students, this is the jackpot drug,” she said. Hammer explains that the reason these students love medications like Adderall is because it’s a stimulant.
“It’s not like an anti-depressant which has a much lower rate of success,” she said. “With amphetamines you are able to feel the effects immediately.”
Sarah Hall, 24, is a pharmacy student at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. She has been diagnosed with a severe case of ADHD since she was a junior in high school. But now her biggest challenge are her friends.
“It seems that as soon as they find out that you have Adderall, you get harassed for it,” she said. “I can’t even tell anyone that I have ADHD because then you get friends of friends offering you money for them.
It is now very common for any student to get there hands on Adderall. And at Boston University it is known that one pill or capsule, depending on the dose, can go for as high as $50 each. Yet this is not being addressed to students about the dangers.
“People can get addicted to this,” Hall said. “I’ve had my medication stolen from me in the library. They didn’t take my wallet, or my phone…just the drugs.”
When the Administration of MCPHS was approached on how this issue was being addressed, they only issued this statement from Michael Ratty, Director of Communications:
Per federal guidelines, the impact of abuse of a diverse array of drugs (including stimulants) is addressed in the drug policy section of the student handbook. Also, Counseling Services and the Dean of Students office keep regular supplies of brochures about prescription drugs and abuse of prescription drugs in our waiting rooms. In addition, Resident Assistants are trained to discuss the issue with students. Last year, the College also produced a poster campaign about various types of drug abuse.
According to a study led by researchers from Duke University, a large amount of students were taking drugs like Concerta, Ritalin, or Adderall. There were 3,407 participants, and 90 percent of those who said that took a stimulant without a prescription said that it was effective in helping them study. But 70 percent of the respondents claimed that they could not see themselves getting addicted.
“If you feel that you need to take something in order to to do anything … That can be a sign of addiction,” Hammer said.
And now more students are trying to get prescriptions by faking symptoms. Doctor Jeffrey Chavin, Tufts Medical, makes sure that he is not overprescribing.
“I’m not just going to give a prescription to someone who says they can’t focus,” he said. “Try turning off the TV.”
But there are Massachusetts doctors overprescribing, and that’s why as of January 1st the state will monitor more closely who is giving what. Because there is now an even higher percentage of residents who are tbking control medication like Ambien, Lyrica, and Klonopin. But amphetamines still remain more popular among college students in the boston area.
“But these students are not taking this to get high,” Hammer says. “They are taking these drugs to excel.”
This could be the reason why it is so hard to address. Because how can you fight something that is actually bringing good.
“I use to get girls who were cutting themselves,” Hammer said. “I now get scholars and students. These people don’t have pot dealers. They are getting legal prescriptions for it.”