With finals week coming up, it seems that everyone is cramming to make sure these final three weeks are at least somewhat successful. Between papers, projects, and ,of course, final exams, everyone has something on their plate this time of year. It is difficult to keep up with the load of work that is piled on at the end of the semester, so how do people stay afloat? Apparently, according to one study, 1 in 5 college kids use some form of study drug such as Adderall or Ritalin to focus on the tasks at hand.
These prescription drugs have their dangers, no doubt. However, many feel that the drugs will help them succeed in the coming weeks. Still, will taking an Adderall lead to better grades during finals week?
The question is not whether the drugs will cause the user to focus more. That is what they are supposed to do and they almost always will do just that. But what is the user actually focusing on when they are taking the drugs? Just because you are on Adderall does not mean you will be any more inclined to study. You will be more focused on whatever task you are doing, and they may be something entirely different and unrelated to the school work you need to be doing. This can be nicely phrased as “being productively unproductive.”
In a Quebec observational study done focusing on children with ADHD over the course of 14 years, it was found that despite the increase in dosage of Ritalin, grades were not higher. The same focus issues plagued these kids’ grades whether they were on the medication, had a small dosage, or a large dosage. The changes in individual child’s dosages, whether it be from none to small or small to large, did not impact grades.
This study was not focused on non-ADHD college kids, but it did focus on the same idea of grades. It comes back to the idea of “being productively unproductive.” Your focus level may change, but your interest level will not, which may lead to using this extra-focus on something completely unrelated.
Does Adderall or Ritalin actually help a struggling college student get better grades? There is no evidence that suggests it, but it really isn’t something that can be tested morally with these drugs being illegal without prescription and dangerous to use for non-prescribed purposes.