As we approach the final weeks of school, I cannot help but notice a sudden increase in Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder patients.
Perhaps this epidemic has spread via the school water fountains. Or maybe the crowd reminiscent of a zombie apocalypse has sprung from another source.
My personal theory is that this epidemic stems from a mental rather than physical source, specifically the portion of our brain that switches on when finals approach and says: time to do something.
Perhaps it's a symptom unique to college students, but the exponential increase in mentally stimulating drugs has a strange correlation with the increase in school work.
When you turn 18, several magic things happen, but the worst of these is that coffee just doesn't do the job anymore.
That's where Adderall enters the scene. However, this is just the gateway drug. Vyvanse comes next, closely followed by cocaine for the hard-core students. It starts innocently enough.
Just another late night at the library, and before you know it, you wake up on your drool-stained notebook to see a friendly face in front of you. That kid from your English class seems to be speaking, but your mind can't process the words fast enough. He holds out a small pill and nods reassuringly. Suddenly the fog clears, the words sharpen and you're in a shining, new drug-ridden world just ready for you to explore. And you've got all night.
Alright, so you got an A on that paper. But what exactly is in this drug?
Adderall is essentially a cocktail of several ingredients, including amphetamine salts. For those who have ADHD, the amphetamines are intended to counteract the effects of the disorder by improving the dopamine flow in the frontal cortex.
Side effects of this drug include being irritable while under the influence as well as feeling as though one's creativity has been stifled in the name of creating order out of disorder and doing the one task at hand.
In a University of Pennsylvania study of the effects of Adderall, Clinical Director of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin Eric Heiligenstein says that these medications allow you to be more structured and more rigid – the opposite of creativity.
Is this just a small price to pay for an "A"? Can one truly sacrifice their creativity for a few hours simply to pass calculus?
There lies a greater issue than the menacing side effects, for a sense of morality comes into play.
Students in college resort to popping these pills to enhance their performance on exams. Is this fair? When an athlete uses performance-enhancing drugs, such as steroids, they are kicked off their sports teams. They are looked down upon for having an unfair advantage. In a sense, isn't Adderall use the same principle?
Although, ADHD is a serious behavioral disorder, an increasing number of children and adolescents are being diagnosed every day. A lot of these kids are seen as "out of control," and rather than disciplining these children, the problem is treated with medication.
This is a medication intended to calm the children and help them focus on their tasks at a much easier level, without their minds wandering off at a constant rate.
Some kids that claim to have ADHD are really just flat out lazy. Some guardians with sub-par parenting skills find comfort by placing blame in a common disorder rather than owning up to their failure to properly discipline children.
As finals approach it seems tempting to take a "happy pill" that will keep me awake for the dreaded cramming and all-nighters. However, such as the best athletes self motivate themselves through pain and discipline, I choose to strive on relying on my own abilities.
Kaila Curry is a freshman in English. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.