Steroids in the classroom: The Adderall Project

The steroid debate hinges around a key question: Do performance enhancing drugs represent an unfair advantage and a well- planned strategy?  In 2017, this debate has made its way from professional athletic fields to our high school and college classrooms across the country.  In our hyper-competitive academic environment of today, dieting and personal one- on- one teachers have become are paltry sources of help to students seeking an edge compared to pharmaceuticals, according to Webmd.com .


 

 Adderall was first introduced in the early stages of the 20th Century. Hitler was well known for ingesting it for 3 years via needle, as reported by Businessinsider.com. However, the German Reich was not the only force to use a form of amphetamines. It was reported that by the end of 1945, the U.S Military and allied forces had sent out more than 100 Million “Power Pills” to soldiers, as extolled by Theatlantic.com. The pills were known for boosting morale and giving focus to troops who were lacking.

 

Smart Drugs weren’t exclusive to the armed forces whatsoever; they have been both the topic of and motivation for entertainment and literature.  In 2011, box office hit Limitless bounced into theatres; the movie followed a struggling writer who takes a drug that lets him access 100% of his brain which leads him into a career in finance, a relationship dating the most beautiful women in the world and, a fight for survival against other people chasing the drug.  

 

Jack Kerouac’s famous novel, On the Road, was written over a span of less than three weeks while he was constantly ingesting a form of Adderall and drinking lots of water, as evident in Nyupress.org.  These pills were not difficult to obtain, but in 1970 this all changed when the drug was questioned in regards to the “Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970,” which would then require a prescription to obtain the drug.

 

The amount of people in America today who have prescriptions for drugs that focus attention and improve performance is astounding.  Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control, a 2012 study determined that 11% of children aged 4-17 have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. That’s nearly 1 in 9 people, more numerous than the number of Americans that have served in the Armed Forces between World War II to the present, as evident in Enotes.com.

 

As of now the pill is only available to individuals who have been diagnosed with a disorder that causes a  lack of focus. It is supposed to make people who have attention problems “level off” normally; therefore, someone who has no attention problems would have heightened abilities while on the pill, as chanted by slate.com

 

After having the privilege of questioning multiple students who continuously use the drug (some prescribed, some not), much information was gained. Speaking with an anonymous senior who uses the pill for studying purposes, they said that, “You focus on everything that is going on around you, it’s all interesting and you want to study.”

 

The pill makes ordinary people feel like they’re Superman, anything academically is possible. Another student who had an old prescription of Adderall, picked up the pill bottle for a marathon Regents study session last year; they came out with a  92 in U.S History and a 94 in English and attribute much of their success to the drug! The student later would say “I am normally a 70’s kid, occasionally an 80, but that drug changed me.”

 

On the other hand, two HF students who have diagnosed ADHD said that at first the drug was very useful and powerful; however, after about a month of continual dosage, the tolerance built up and they didn’t feel it anymore. This concept shows the dangers of the drug. An article found at “jsonline.com” (a journal of USA Today), followed the story of a middle-aged man who began abusing Adderall. He was taking four times his original dosage and when he ran out of the pills, “he turned to something stronger, cheaper and easier to find: street methamphetamine.”

 

This is a major problem with Adderall; it bears a significant resemblance to methamphetamine which is an illegal drug as powerful as cocaine. When a doctor doesn’t write another prescription, certain steps are often taken to replace it. This is not to suggest that Harborfields High School has illegal activity running through it, but like most schools in today’s academic climate, students constantly seek that academic edge.  

 

Like most schools, Adderall is consumed by students to survive intense academic situations. A quick 20 mile trip to Merrick, New York, Calhoun High School sits with approximately 1,300 total students enrolled. Dylan Barry, a current high school senior and decorated varsity athlete had reported much information of drug abuse in the school.

 

“There are definitely a lot of students who use it, some of whom I am friends with,” Dylan abjured. Not to say he hasn’t been offered; “It has happened, but I always say no, I want no part of it,” said Dylan in an interview. An article in the Washington Post gave an estimate of roughly 30,000 high schools in America in which stories like this are a dime a dozen.  Accordingly, schools have become vigilant in their attempts to stop student abuse of the academic performance enhancers and to identify students who need help.  

 

In fact, the University of Colorado has a strict policy on study aids.  newsletter that was sent out to all current students during finals week said, "While perhaps tempting, it is against the law to use or possess study aid drugs that are not prescribed to you," said Corporal Matthew DeLaria. "It is also illegal for those with legitimate prescriptions to provide their drugs to others." The punishments vary for the students that have been caught with them, but it’s still a very serious matter.

 

The drug is one of the most widely known and abused prescription drugs in the world, according to Newlifehouse.com. It has worked wonders for individuals suffering from focusing disorders. However, students, busy mothers, and even successful military leaders have used the drug for its enhanced capabilities on the human mind. The unlikelihood of getting caught with the drug isn’t the deciding factor for many people; it often comes down to their personality and sense of ethos: Should I work at something or take a shortcut.  Should I sacrifice my body for a chance at academic glory?