Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Pre-Med's favorite drug.

Ever fell into that trap of studying before and exam but you can't seem to focus? Constantly switching from tab to tab, half of them being YouTube, Reddit, Instagram etc. but just cant keep your attention on your assignment? Well that is were Adderall and its derivatives come in. An amphetamine that is commonly referred to as a "study drug" and while it is extremely popular on campuses (Both for diagnosed ADHD as well as general abuse of the drug) it has come to my attention that alot of people don't really know how the drug itself works and why it causes people to focus so heavily on one specific task.

The way the drug works is that once you take it and it gets into your system it acts as an analog for the following neurotransmitters: Epinephrine, Norepinephrine and Dopamine. For each of those, there is a different effect that causes you to maintain focus on a task. When it mimics epinephrine it causes the brain to trigger the fight or flight response which causes you to be generally more alert and focused. The dopamine effect is that once you do anything that you either enjoy or feel accomplished with (such as completing a portion of an assignment) it makes you feel good. What adderall does is it mimics that effect and puts it on steroids. So if you do anything that would cause your brain to produce dopamine you subconsciously feel the need to keep doing it far more than you would in a sober state. And finally the norepinephrine effect works to help control the aforementioned effects to facilitate communication between neurons and this is what ultimately causes them to last longer and keep you focused and alert for long periods of time.

Now unfortunately, the drug is one of the most heavily abused in academia and becomes a crutch to lean on for students that have heavy workloads and cant seem to get all their work done. The drug was meant to treat those with ADHD, but as with any prescription drug it can easily get into the kids hands that don't really need it. Not to mention, along with heavy usage means a tolerance for the drug so students end up taking more and more each time to maintain their level of focus.  With this comes some hefty side-effects such as irregular heart rate, anxiety, paranoia, depression, reduced sex drive and decreased hunger. When coming down people experience the body in a full state of exhaustion due to how much energy it spends powering your brain.

The interesting part of all this is that I find it very interesting that we can produce a drug that changes something like focus, which is so hard to quantify. In other words, if you were to take an anti-inflammatory you can physically see it's effects and quantify that but with something like adderall it is hard to wrap your mind around it. Partly because when we think of someone procrastinating we just think of laziness and would hope you could just bunker down and work through it. However with the drug you can literally take an anti-laziness pill which is likely why it is so abused and becomes a major crutch for students to lean on.


  1. Forgot to put this in there but posted by Leon Mamish (2) and the article link is:

  2. Had no idea that this is how Adderall affects neuroscience. It is definitely scary to consider how drugs could potentially be altering your brain chemistry in ways that have negative impacts on the rest of your body. I can see how it would be useful for treating ADHD, though the abuse it receives in academia detracts from the contributions it could make for the general public. Adderall addiction is not pretty, and it makes me wonder what can be done to prevent this abuse.
    Harris Jackson (1)

    1. Very true, however often times ADHD is such a common diagnosis and one that you van very easily "trick" your doctor into diagnosing you which leads to a huge abundance of people with prescriptions on campus. And these tend to be the people who sell the drug to others which only increases prevalence.

      Leon Mamish (2)

  3. I wonder what could possibly be done to try and stop this problem thats only increasing across academia. An over diagnosis of adderall may be the cause, and sooner or later they could decrease the amount psychiatrists prescribe these medications. Whether or not student will find another drug to motivate them is another question.
    -Katherine Patota (2)

    1. I mean, adderal isnt the only major amphetamine students use, others include Vyvanse and Ritalin. But the only thing I could really think of is making it harder to get, because in all honesty anyone with any knowledge of ADHD and how it is prescribed could feasibly get a prescription for any of the drugs above.

      Leon Mamish (2)

  4. I know some of my friend actually use Adderall to help them focus for a big exam coming it. Isn't it bad to take unnecessary drugs that aren't meant for you to take? What are the long term side effects of continuously taking Adderall if you're not diagnosed with ADHD? Is it more than what's been said above? People get so stressed easily now and we're always told to excel our academics and that probably puts pressure on people to take drugs that aren't meant for them.
    -Catherine Tsang (3)

    1. Some long term effects include obviously dependency on the drug and addiction which can lead to common withdrawals. On top of that depression, heart problems, increased anxiety etc.

      Leon Mamish (2)

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