In order for me to pull an all-nighter, I’ll take Adderall,” says Daphne, a junior in early childhood education at UL Lafayette. She and a fellow student and friend, Velma, have come to The Independent Weekly office the Saturday before finals week to talk about what is so common on college campuses students simply take it for granted.
Daphne and Velma — not their real names — are all-American co-eds, the former from New Iberia, the latter from Lafayette. They’re both prescribed Adderall, a drug widely doled out to people diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. Daphne is prescribed 60 pills per month, only needs about 30, so she shares the rest with her friends. Velma gets but 30 per month, so when exams approach, she cuts back the week before to make sure she has extras.
Adderall is the new java for college students. Velma estimates up to 70 percent of her friends use it when finals roll around. Finals are this week at UL. Adderall is in short supply. “I’ve gotten probably about 15 calls this week from people wanting to buy Adderall,” Velma reveals. “I’ve gotten offers for like 20 bucks for one Adderall. It’s finals.”
As Velma and Daphne tell it, once word gets out that you have a ’script, your popularity index soars. “I was at the library the other night,” Daphne recalls with a chuckle, “and I had my Adderall and everybody was looking at me like, ‘Give me some!’”
Other students, according to the girls, visit a doctor and feign ADD symptoms — restless and fidgety in class, an inability to focus — and, bam, they have a prescription. Some, like Daphne, use what they need and give away the rest to friends. Others turn an Adderall prescription into cash. “There’s people that can make bank on selling Adderall,” says Daphne.
But there can be dangers, as mental health professionals are quick to point out, for people using drugs without a prescription. Daphne has seen it up close. “My roommate’s taken it, and she’s not prescribed it,” Daphne says, “and she was like freaking out when she took it. She thought her heart was going crazy. Like, she was just like freaking out.” In fact, medical literature cites insomnia, digestive problems, vomiting, loss of appetite and psychotic episodes as potential side effects to Adderall use.
When I went to UL, then called USL, we still banged out term papers on typewriters. Overnight cramming for finals was common, but the sound track was a percolating coffee pot. The truly craven might pop a mini-thin or two. And “like” was an adjective, a preposition, an adverb, a noun, and a crucial ingredient in similes. It was like never an interjection.
But language changes, and so do mores. Popping an Adderall for the purpose of study carries no stigma among the students.
Both Daphne and Velma admit that some students do use Adderall as a recreational drug, but they’re in the minority. For most, it is of a strictly utilitarian purpose. But it can be abused, even by the studious. “I have a friend,” admits Daphne, “and he used it to stay up multiple nights in a row, and he used it to where his eyelids started to bleed because he stayed up so many days.”
I suspect the lad shed tears of blood upon making the Dean’s List.