Dubbed "Kiddie Coke," Adderall is being abused by increasing numbers of high school and college students all across America. It's difficult to quantify the extent of the abuse among students due the availability of the drug through legal prescriptions and on the internet.
Adderall is an amphetamine, a class of stimulant drugs that were widely abused when prescribed as diet pills until they were banned for that use more than 2 decades ago. However, according to clinical social worker, Catherine Wood: "The mother's little helpers of the 1960's and 1970's are all available now on the Internet."
Adderall maker, Shire Pharmaceuticals, cannot claim ignorance about the obvious rise in profits resulting from the sale of one of its top selling drugs on the internet to people without a valid prescription. And therefore, in addition to enjoying the black market profits in plain sight, Shire must be held accountable for any and all harm done to customers who unwittingly purchase Adderall online.
More and more high school students are using the drug illegally. A 2004 University of Michigan study on non-medical use of amphetamines in schools nationwide, found 4.9% of 8th graders had used amphetamines in the previous year, 8.5% of 10th graders had used the drug, and with 12th graders, one in 10 seniors admitted to non-medical use of amphetamines.
Another 2005 report from the Partnership for a Drug Free America, based on a survey of more than 7,300 teenagers, also found one in 10 teenagers, or 2.3 million young people, had tried prescription stimulants without a doctors order, and 29% of those surveyed said they had close friends who have abused prescription stimulants.
"Increasing numbers of students, and sometimes their families," Dr Kadison says, "request medication to provide an "edge," even if the students have no clinically significant impairment of functioning."
Many college students report what they call "pharming": using stimulants for recreation, to work more efficiently, and to lessen the need for sleep. A July 2005, Student Drug Research Survey of University of Maryland students found Adderall was the third-easiest drug to get at the University after alcohol and marijuana.
Because stimulants have been widely prescribed to children for decades, college students think Adderall is safe and know the symptoms to describe to get a doctor to write a prescription. The challenge for physicians, Dr Kadison says, is to determine which patients have a legitimate need for medication, particularly given recent warnings about the safety of some of these drugs.
The widespread tolerance of Adderall use resembles the blind eye too many parents cast on teenage drinking prior to the 1990s. And since it is primarily considered a study drug by many students, even students who are anti-drug have divided opinions about Adderall use. Typically, "Dealers" have valid prescriptions for the drug and sell their unused pills to friends for little or no profit.
But the fact remains, under federal law it is illegal to possess a Schedule II drug, such as Adderall, without a prescription and yet ironically, college students are using Adderall illegally in hope of doing better on law school admission tests.
Shortly before taking the Law School Admission Test at the University of Colorado, Carrie, a college senior, downed an Adderall with her breakfast of eggs and toast. "I'm nervous because I'm taking a test that will determine the rest of my life," she said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, on November 8, 2004.
Carrie had no prescription for the drug but had bought 10 pills for $2 each from a friend's roommate. She took practice tests with and without pills, she told the WSJ, before deciding that Adderall would help improve her score.
Another pre-law student, Chul Yim, a graduate of the University of Nevada, who has a job in Washington, on Capitol Hill, told the WSJ, he's wrestling with whether to use a stimulant before he takes the Law School Admission Test.