Lifewatch: Using Adderall to study

Reported by Claire Hosmann - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - At colleges and universities, it's grind time as the semester winds down and the pressure is on for every student to perform, but in stead of hitting up coffee shops to study many students turn to pills.

Adderall and Ritalin, stimulants prescribed for kids with ADHD, are now being used as a neuro enhancer by normal students.

"I would say that it lasts for about 8-10 hours and you can remain very focused on whatever task you have to do," said Jeff.

"It helped me to concentrate and keep from racing and thinking about different things," said Mary.

"It's the American way of people wanting a quick fix for an issue that is not a quick fix," said pediatric neurologist Dr. Max Wiznitzer.  "There is going to be a subgroup where it clearly does give them a better energy, a bit more focus to get things done in a more efficient manner, but it's not a substitute for learning the right skills."

Some students who take Adderall or Ritalin too much can over focus and lose sight of the bigger perspective.

"Cause he was probably taking it too much, which is why I was there, to keep him looking at the big picture," said Ryan.  "You've got to write this and not just worry about how the bibliography looks."

Taking the drug unsupervised can be dangerous.  A government study issued to the FDA shows 25 sudden deaths between 1999 and 2003 among people taking the stimulants.

"This is not a legal behavior," said Dr. Wiznitzer.  "I cannot endorse it in any way."

The concern with Adderall is not from a single use.  One pill won't kill you, but one pill is likely to lead to a second which starts the snowball effect - and that is when physical damage can occur.

Overall, prescriptions for stimulants have risen from 1.6 million in 2000 to 2.6 million a month in 2004.