Study Drugs: Be Informed and Consider the Alternatives

It’s no secret that the college experience has included experimentation with drugs. When I think of drug use on campus, I picture sitting in circles on a grassy hill, smoking joints, trading revolutionary ideas, and experimenting with psychedelics like LSD. Fast forward a few decades and what you get is a complex drug problem that exists in colleges around the country, and the new juggernaut is the prescription drug trade.

The United States boasts over forty-five percent of the global pharmaceutical business, and that equates to a four hundred forty six-billion-dollar market according to While there’s a whole other story to be told about big pharma, the story I tell is about how prescriptions referred to by some as, study-drugs, have bled into colleges. A stand-out in this group is the stimulant  Adderall, prescribed to children for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. According to Timothy Wilens, MD, Chief of Massachusetts General Hospital and researcher, Adderall has grown in misuse among young people and ten to fifteen percent of prescribed users of Adderall are considered diversion users. This means pills are diverted by misuse, or by unlawful sale to the undiagnosed.

Let’s Talk about Adderall

One of the main issues with study drugs like Adderall, is that no one is talking about them. This allows them to elude the negative stigma that other drugs carry. These pills are being prescribed to young people across the nation and the reality is that they come with many of the same side effects as other hard street drugs. Yet, Adderall is seen as a harmless pill that helps a person focus and pull all-nighters cramming before big tests.

No one can argue that students are feeling the pressures of doing well in school and while that might be a good thing since students are taking their studies so seriously, it may also be leading them to turn to things like Adderall to do what they believe will ensure their success.

Vox Pop Interviews at Sierra

I looked into this issue by conducting vox pop interviews with students at Sierra College. While it became clear that the campus is not an Adderall hot-spot, students are familiar with its use as a study drug. Interviewees described knowing people who have misused the drug, but they did not think it was a problem at Sierra. Some also talked about the support at Sierra College to help study and succeed.

This all surprised me really, until the research pointed to the most competitive schools being the leaders in Adderall misuse. The rate of study drug misuse correlates with the competitiveness of the schools, as Dr. Timothy Wilens MD, explains in the video referenced earlier. This means the more competitive the school, the higher the rates of Adderall misuse. On the other hand, one Sierra student described his classes differently:

We’re all on the same level of life, learning, and focus without Adderall. You can find your own ways of studying and retaining information without that drug.

Get Support & Be Informed

Sierra College has tons of resources to help individuals with their studies, check out the Writing Center and Student Success Center, and counseling for mental and physical hurdles as well. And there are always people to reach out to in hard times. People like our professors, counselors, and friends and family are all people who would love to see us thrive. Go to the Sierra College homepage under, Student Services for more information on the many resources our school has to offer.

It is up to us to be informed, educate ourselves on study drugs like Adderall, and make good choices when it comes to what we face in our unique college experience. Let’s talk about Adderall and open the secret that makes our schools a breeding ground for pressure-driven substance abuse.

Written by Eric Pacheco | Audio Vox Pop by Eric Pacheco

Leave a Reply