As the final classes of the semester conclude and exams approach, students are becoming increasingly reliant on Adderall — a drug prescribed to those diagnosed with ADHD — for short-term study assistance.
While the number of Adderall prescriptions has risen exponentially in the past ten years, college students are prime victims for abuse. According to data from the Addiction Center, college students are two times more likely to abuse Adderall than non-students.
The growing reliance on Adderall to promote focus for last-minute test cramming results in addiction for students who constantly abuse the drug. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that students who are not prescribed Adderall yet continuously take the drug are at a major risk of developing a dependence on it.
University Police Department Detective Lt. Jeremy Cook shared that the act of possessing Adderall without a valid medical prescription could result in serious penalties on campus.
“The student will also have to deal with the student conduct department on campus and possibly lose financial aid. Illegal possession of a prescription that is not yours can lead to major consequences,” Cook said.
Possession of 10 to 20 pills, for example, can lead to up to eight years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 in Mississippi.
According to Rod Waller, commander of the Lafayette County Metro Narcotics Unit, if students are in possession of Adderall, they should have their prescription with them when carrying the prescribed drug on campus.
“This would possibly keep the person from having Adderall seized until it could be shown that the person has a valid prescription,” Waller said.
When UPD encounters students wrongly in possession of the drug, they will refer the students to the Metro Narcotics Unit, where they will be faulted and charged.
“Possession of two or more Adderall pills is a felony if the person does not have a valid prescription,” Waller said. “They can receive up to three years in prison and be fined up to $50,000. The maximum punishment goes up if a person is caught with larger amounts of Adderall without a valid prescription.”
Illegal possession is not the only thing that can be penalized. Selling Adderall without a license to prescribe the drug could result in a similar felony charge. Anyone convicted of selling 40 or more pills could land in prison for up to 40 years and face a $1 million dollar fine.
Though some students believe UPD escorts K-9 police dogs through the library during the weeks of midterms and finals to catch students illegally in possession of the drug, Cook said UPD does not actively search for students in illegal possession.
“We do not walk a dog through the library during finals week, and (Adderall use) is honestly not the biggest issue that we deal with during finals week, even though we know it happens,” Cook said. “We always encourage students not to possess or take prescription medicine that is not prescribed to them because it is against the law and it can lead to addiction.”
In a previous interview, Dr. Travis Yates, former director of the University Health Services, explained that those who are prescribed the drug but sell it instead are not able to complete the prescription and thus will not receive the full therapeutic benefits of Adderall.
“Adderall has multiple adverse side effects such as hypertension, adverse heart effects, hostility, paranoia, aggression, seizures and is potentially habit forming,” Yates said. “The potential for these is more pronounced when Adderall dosing is not carefully monitored, especially when excess doses are taken.”
Using Adderall without a proper diagnosis can severely affect mental health, and continuous use could result in a dependence on the drug.
“Adderall is to be taken daily to increase focus and attentiveness, which facilitates good study habits,” Yates added. “These improved daily study habits lead to improved long-term recall. Taking an isolated dose of Adderall before an exam does not improve long-term recall.”
While the Student Health Center does not directly diagnose or manage ADHD in students, it does play a part when students seek to fill prescriptions.
According to Yates, most students provide evidence for their ADHD diagnosis, but he has seen students who are unable to provide any documentation of their diagnosis when requesting a prescription of Adderall.
If unable to provide evidence of a diagnosis and need for medication, the Student Health Center will send the student over to the Psychological Services Center for testing and referrals to local health care providers with specializations in ADHD management.