So, it’s that time of the semester again. Or maybe it was last week for some people, but the university I attend begins finals week on Monday and the underground market for study drugs is pressed hard to meet the demands with what limited supply exists. Prices are driven up. Dollar by dollar little capsules and pills are elevated to near gold-standard as students attempt to cram a semester’s worth of information into there uncomprehending minds. Or at least, thats how it seems to me.
As someone who has ADHD himself, and someone who happens to be particularly obsessed with understanding the pharmacological, social, and psychological implications of the numerous amphetamine-based and amphetamine-like drugs out there (including those to treat my very own diagnosis), I am keenly aware of this social phenomenon. An occurrence that is so predictable it is sad. It starts the week before and lasts through finals.
Now, I could offer you citation after citation, and maybe I will cite my sources, but for right now this is all off the top of my head. I know that between 1993 and 2000, there was a 1600% increase in the number of prescriptions written for the so called “study drugs” I also know that since the year 2000 the rate of ADHD diagnosis has increased at a rate of 3 to 5% per year, every year, and that is just an estimate. One can only begin to imagine how many prescriptions have been written for stimulant drugs from 2000 to present. But stats aren’t my point…
My point is that for every individual who malingers their way into a prescription, and for everyone individual who diverts their prescribed medications away from their prescribed purpose, individuals who truly and honestly deal with ADHD and need their medications to function effectively in the world; are being dragged through the mud, as the media, science, the government even, begin to question the legitimacy and necessity of stimulant medication to treat ADHD. It seems that there is, at the very least, a weekly article or story on the news warning of the ever increasing amount of children and adults being given medication, or students using it improperly and developing an addiction with disastrous consequences, and so on and so forth. What the media very rarely portrays is someone like me, on a medication off day, hyperactive both mentally and physically, bouncing off walls and failing to socialize normally. Now compare that to a medicated day at school where I am a TA, researcher, and student myself aiming for a PhD. Something I would not even be able to consider without medication. Now, I have dreams and the chance to pursue a great deal of education, degrees; my dream.
I just gets to me when I hear kids on campus nonchalantly boasting how jacked up on adderall they are, or how they had to pay 6 dollars a pill but it was worth it. I get even angrier when I already know that any information they’ve taken in in their all nighters won’t be retained for more than a day if that. Shit, its unlikely a trace memory will even remember by the time they make it to the test. Not to mention the fact that as an amphetamine, and based on non-human primate studies, Adderall has been shown to be neurotoxic at therapeutic doses let alone whatever abusive doses these kids are taking.
Last year there was a national adderall shortage. As a schedule two drug, the government only release so much of the chemical precursors necessary to make the chemical compound known as adderall. The increase in prescriptions written overtaxed the amount that was made for that year, not to mention the increased prescription/production of the relatively new name-brand ADHD amphetamine-based treatment, Vyvanse ($40 for 30 days worth, with relatively good insurance). I’m not asking all of the undergrads around the country who do not have ADHD, asking them that would be like asking a deaf person anything. No, I’m simply asking the policy makers, news makers, and opinionators to remember people like me who can’t function in the neuronormal world without their stimulant medications, taken for medically validated and approved purposes, in the correct dosages; consider us before any before legislating, updating, and committing to ideas about something you know absolutely nothing of.