Adderall in Relation to College Students
College students are often under high stress situations. Whether they are studying for an exam or trying to finish a lengthy paper, students at universities across the nation will do just about whatever it takes to get the grade they want. Today, a very common method of enhancing academic performance is taking the drug Adderall. This drug is well known to increase focus/ attention spans and cause restlessness which coincides perfectly with how typical college students want to study. According to a Survey on Misuse and Abuse of Prescription Stimulants Among College Students and Other Young Adults, one in five college students admits to using Adderall without a prescription. Several students cram the night before of an exam and often do not even sleep just so they can get every last ounce of studying in. Does adderall actually help the students get a better grade?
What is Adderall?
Adderall is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as well as narcolepsy. People with ADD or ADHD have certain impairments that result in decreased levels of attention. The lack of attention is caused by the hyperactive state of the brain. The two neurotransmitters that are in Adderall are amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Both of these neurotransmitters are considered stimulants and influence chemicals and nerves in the brain that control hyperactivity (and impulses). Since people with specific disorders such as ADHD or ADD have abnormally active minds, Adderall is used to treat the disorder by moderating the activity of the brain.
While Adderall does help millions of Americans who are diagnosed with ADHD and various sleeping irregularities every year, many people illegally consume Adderall. The most common group of people to rely on Adderall illegally is college students. Adderall has similar effects for those who do not have ADHD or other hyperactivity disorders. Adderall works to increase the brain’s access to dopamine. This allows for someone to find some pleasure in doing something that would otherwise not be enjoyable. This also allows for someone to concentrate on a particular thing easier.
The Effects on Academic Performance
Since Adderall results in increased concentration, staying up all night to study may become easier and more enjoyable for students. Understandably, it is often assumed that this would result in higher grades. What people fail to realize is that students often consume adderall just a day or two before their exam. Since the studying effort was crammed, retaining the information studied is not as easy. Adderall is often the last hope for students. If they do not take a pill of Adderall before studying they may worry that they will not have motivation, and may end up not studying at all.
Currently there are no studies or experiments that relate adderall consumption to grades but that may change in the next few years since the issue of adderall consumption continuing to increase among college students is prevalent. The best way to determine whether or not adderall has any effect on academic performance would be to conduct a double blind placebo trial where certain individuals take adderall before studying and the other individuals take a placebo pill. The morality of such an experiment is often questioned considering adderall can become addictive, and comes with several other side effects such as loss of appetite, lightheadedness and restlessness. Without any study to reference to, it is difficult to form a correct conclusion.
Some students swear that they get better grades because of adderall. This may be in result of the fact that the student actually decided to study after taking adderall. Without adderall, the student may not have been motivated to study, and therefore may not have studied at all.
Depending on how Adderall is used in terms of studying, whether the user studies in intervals or crams at the last minute, the grades that result from consuming adderall may change. A student who studies in intervals will almost always get a better grade than a student who crams their studying attempts. If both of these students were to take adderall prior to when they studied, I do not think there would be any change in the grade that they both would have received without taking adderall. The higher grade is not from consuming adderall but rather based on how the student studied.
Adderall cannot yet be attributed to higher or lower grades, however, after reading about the drug and how it is abused, I would imagine that it does not have a significant effect on intelligence or on the ability to get better grades. What may actually influence the grade a student gets on a test is the tactic he or she used to study for it.