The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Students abuse popular stimulant to focus

By Frankie Farrar-Helm/entertainment editor

Busy students frequently consume products that help them keep their edge in school. Some drink coffee or energy drinks. Some take Adderall.

The brand-name medication, which is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, releases chemicals in the brain to improve alertness, concentration, general mood and overall cognitive performance.

Like other powerful stimulants, Adderall has a relatively high potential for abuse and addiction, especially when someone without the disorder takes the drug, experts say.

Consequently, some students who have a prescription pass the drug around like candy to students without a prescription who use it to get high or stay awake.

Police and prescribed students are spreading the awareness about the dangers and unanticipated side effects to people using the drug for unintended use.

NE student Thomas Peoples, 21, said he has given his Adderall to students wanting it to help them study.

“I’ve had a friend who took it that didn’t have a prescription, and he said he was tweaking out and was shaking a lot and had a lot of anxiety,” he said.

Pat Marling, NE health services coordinator, said Adderall can have opposite effects on students who are prescribed to the drug and students who are not.

“Someone who doesn’t have ADHD and takes Adderall will be hyped up and their heart rate will increase,” she said. “For someone who is prescribed, it calms them down.”

Peoples said he didn’t give the drug to a random person, rather someone he knew well.

“I wasn’t trying to profit off people,” he said. “I need the medication for myself. If they need it that bad, they can go to the doctor and get a prescription like I do.”

Diagnosed with ADHD at 5 years old, Peoples tried a plethora of medications, including Ritalin, to treat the disorder.

“For me, Adderall works the best because when I’m on it I get to be normal like everybody else. I’m able to study, pay attention, interact and manage my behavior,” he said. “Without it, I’m like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Sometimes I can be chill, and the other times I can be uninhibited and off the wall.”

Peoples said the responsibility of taking his medication became difficult for him when he began his freshman

year of college at the University of North Texas in 2008.

“Adderall is an appetite suppressant, and because I didn’t properly take my medicine, I ate more than usual and gained 30 pounds my first semester,” he said. “Without my medication, I partied too hard. I have to relearn how to do everything again. I’m working on losing weight and getting my GPA back up.”

To be a functional member of society, Peoples said he will have to take Adderall for the rest of his life.

A NE student named Beth, 25, who refused to give her last name because of the stigma attached to the drug, said during her freshman year at Oklahoma University she gave a student a couple of pills because the girl said her prescription ran out.

“I found out later that she took the Adderall for fun, and that was the last time I gave someone my medication,” Beth said. “I honestly don’t know why someone would want to feel like that. I hear if you don’t need them, they affect you differently.”

To get a prescription of Adderall, the patient must pick it up within three days of it being written, Marling said.

“To take a medication for a condition you don’t have is very dangerous and very illegal,” Marling said.

Beth, who was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder at 5, said she didn’t need Adderall until her first semester in college.

“I didn’t need it in high school because the teachers hold your hand and call your parents and remind you of this and that,” she said, “but when I started college, it was a rude awakening, and I’m glad there was something I could do about it. I don’t enjoy it [Adderall], but it helps.”

Though the medication helps her pay attention and focus in school, Beth said it makes her feel like a robot.

“I hate that when I take it someone will say something funny that I know is funny … but I don’t laugh. Sometimes I fake it to be nice, but it’s not real, and it weirds me out,” she said.

Without her medication, Beth said her imagination runs wild.

“I’m ready to conquer the world, laugh and be excited about small things like new pencils and costumes for my dog,” she said. “But if you ask me about something you told me or expect me to pay attention to take good notes, you’re out of luck.”

Beth said she doesn’t give or sell Adderall to students because she thinks it’s foolish.

“If you’re that hard up to get a buzz, go buy a beer … and if you need it to stay up all night to pass an exam, I say your ship has sailed,” she said. “Take the F you earned by not keeping up with the material and quit asking people for pills.”

Bobby Lapenna, a narcotics task force officer with Bedford Police, said even though Adderall isn’t a drug that is trafficked over the border, it is still frequently dealed.

“When it comes to high school kids and college kids, they’ll buy anything — commonly Adderall,” he said.

“People can’t be prosecuted for having a legal prescription on them, but they can be prosecuted if they’re caught selling the drug illegally.”

Lapenna said prescription drugs such as Adderall are dangerous because they can lead users to a dependency on the drug, particularly if they are abused.

“It’s not good to put things in your body that aren’t meant for you,” he said.

As a longtime user of Adderall, Peoples said he has already gained a chemical dependency on the medication.

“It’s a way of life,” he said. “Maybe when I’m old and in the nursing home, I can stop taking it and just go wild.”



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