Jay Zabel’s first and only experience with Adderall is something he’d like to forget.
“It was in the spring before one of my finals,” 20-year-old Zabel said. “I was focusing on weird things and not really my homework.”
Zabel was a freshman when he used Adderall. Now a junior at the University of Minnesota, Zabel said he knows plenty of people who are willing to share the drug, especially around this time of the year.
Colleges around the nation are concluding their fall semesters, which means more finals and possibly more Adderall use.
The prescription drug designed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can increase focus and suppress the need for rest, but it has evolved into a widespread study aid for college students.
Earlier this year, Medical News Daily reported more than 34% of college students admitted to Adderall use. Students are using the drug to help focus with homework, studying and preparation for exams. It can be habit forming and students are breaking the law if they use it without a prescription.
When he took Adderall, Zabel said he was preparing for his trigonometry test, but instead of working on the math problems, he was “focusing on the corners of his calculator.”
He said he would never use it again.
Matthew Hanson is a senior psychologist in the University of Minnesota’s Counseling and Consulting Services office. He said he’s met with several students who have used Adderall, but it’s not a usual topic of conversation.
“I can’t say that’s a common thing students and I talk about,” Hanson said. “I think students may feel embarrassment about relying on it.”
University of Iowa freshman Cameron Daft relies on it, but he’s not embarrassed. He’s been using Adderall for two years to treat his attention deficit disorder (ADD).
Some of Daft’s classmates know about his ADD, and he said they approach him on a regular basis about acquiring the drug for their recreational use.
“[They ask for it] for finals, pulling all-nighters, finishing studying,” he said, “and in some occasions, when they go out partying.”
Zabel doesn’t know a lot of kids who party with Adderall, but he said he has a lot of friends who are going to use Adderall to prepare for their upcoming tests.
Apparently, it’s pretty easy for professional football players to get a hold of, too. Earlier this week, Seattle Seahawks cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner tested positive for alleged Adderall use and were suspended for four games by the NFL, USA TODAY reported.
Experts consider the drug a performance-enhancer for athletes because it provides an energy boost. But when students use the drug, “it causes more problems than it helps,” Hanson said.
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