In the United States over one in twenty children, spanning from ages four to seventeen, are diagnosed with medication for ADHD. This is a staggering 500% increase since 1990. As the number of people diagnosed with ADHD has increased, the enormous issue of ADHD drug abuse has grown into an epidemic. Ask any college student, whether they like it or not, it is scary how easy it is for someone to get their hands on drugs like Adderall or Ritalin. Many students do not use these drugs, and it is frustrating to students who do not use them because it appears to put them at a disadvantage. Society has created an incentive for students to use them just to keep up with the large amount of students who do. Although this is the case, these students may be wrong because ADHD prescription drugs may lead to worse grades.
Scientists gathered 579 children between ages 7 and 10 who were diagnosed with ADHD. The children were then divided into four groups with different forms of treatment. The first group received a double blind placebo trial, which looked to assess four different doses of Ritalin. Another group was given “community care” which involved receiving medication from their local health resources. On average these children were given a lower amount of medication than those in the first group. The “behavioral treatment” group that involved a program focusing on how the kids’ behavior was and also focused on different social skills. They were also given time to work with teachers and develop classroom learning/behavior traits. The final group, “combined treatment”, received both the behavioral treatment methods and the medication management. After fourteen months of evaluation, they were given a standardized test that they also received before the study. Children in each group showed momentous improvements. These results are not very surprising because the children are all diagnosed with ADHD and the medication they receive is supposed to help them with their learning disability.
ADHD medication on those without ADHD leads to different results. A double blind study controlled by a placebo was conducted in 2011. The participants were given both a placebo and Ritalin. When they believed that they were receiving Ritalin, the most commons result was that they felt a stronger focus for an extended period of time. When they did not believe they were taking the drug and believed it was a placebo, the participants had lower scores on tests they had to complete.
It is clear that for those who truly have ADHD, consumption of the medication is necessary and by no means an unfair advantage. For those who are not diagnosed I can either reject or fail to reject the hypothesis. I have concluded that the ‘advantage’ gained by taking these pills can physiological, but may lead to short-term success in the classroom because of the increased focus the pills provide. Taking these medications without a prescription is illegal can be very dangerous and addictive which would leave students worse off in the long run. There are a few alternatives that doctors suggest that for a person without ADHD will find effective. These include getting plenty of sleep, avoid consuming caffeine, eating a healthy diet, and doing stress-relieving activities such as yoga.