On Wednesday, March 2nd, I attended a deliberation at the Municipal Building on South Allen Street. The title of the of the deliberation was “The Rise of Study Drugs on College Campuses.” The study drug discussed was Adderall. The deliberation team offered three different approaches on how to deal with the issue of Adderall use on college campuses.
The first approach suggested was to enforce stricter laws and fines to deter students from utilizing Adderall. Adderall is a schedule II drug, the same level as meth and morphine in the eyes of the DEA. Many students do not realize how serious Adderall is and how severe the consequences are. For example, if an individual is caught using Adderall without a prescription, he may face a 10,000 fine and a year and jail. Also, if someone is caught selling Adderall the fine is 5 million dollars and 20 years and prison. The first approach suggested that these fines and jail times be more enforced. However, many students in the audience felt that this would not work because if students really want to use Adderall, they will, regardless of the laws or fines. Many students also agreed that the punishments were too harsh. One young man suggested that in order to combat the usage of Adderall on college campuses, the students themselves must create a stigma to discourage kids from thinking that Adderall is a normal and cool thing to do. Today, there are several commercials and campaigns that talk about how uncool and unattractive smoking cigarettes is. The young man suggested that a similar approach may work on Adderall.
The second approach moved in the complete opposite direction. The second approach was to decriminalize the use of Adderall. This approach would remove Adderall’s schedule II status and therefore remove any fines or jail time that come with its use. Also, it would be legal for students to use it to study and they could even buy small dosages of it behind the counter. This option would also include educational programs to inform students on the drugs effects and possible health risks. This approach raised a lot of questions and issues from the audience. For example, many wondered if students would form a dependency on the drug and have to constantly increase their dosage. However, the deliberation team informed the audience that Adderall is not addictive and does not have any long-term health effects. The effects of Adderall are similar to those of caffeine and only last a short amount of time. Some students felt that it would be unfair because the students who choose to take Adderall would be at an advantage. However, anther student pointed out that it is not unfair if the drug is available to everyone and that whether or not you choose to use it is your own personal decision.
The final approach did not focus on Adderall itself but rather on the educational system. The deliberation teams suggested reforming the educational system so that there would be less competition and stress and thus, reduce the need for studies drugs. Many students were in favor of this approach. Some students complained that in some of their classes, their grades are entirely made of just two or three tests and nothing else. This place a lot of stress on students to do well on these tests and even drives some to use drugs to do well. A young woman in the crowd suggesting that classes be more seminar style to provide a more calm and replaced environment. Another student suggested that some finals could be projects that would be worked on for several weeks instead of just an hour and a half test that kids cram for the night before. Another suggestion was more group activities to relieve the stress of always having to do things on your own. However, another student pointed out that because the United States is a capitalist country, there will always be competition and there is no possible way to eliminate it. He explained that it might be beneficial to introduce kids to the pressures and concepts of competition so that they know what to expect when they get into the real world.
Overall, I felt it was a healthy discussion about a very interesting and relevant topic. The audience ruled out stricter laws and fines because it felt that approach was too harsh and would not deter students from using Adderall. Some students favored decriminalization while others were completely against it. As for reforming the educational system, everyone seemed to like the idea of it but agreed that it may not be feasible. Although there were differing opinions, I thought it was a well-controlled, worthwhile discussion that I am happy I got to participate in.