For those high school students looking to pursue a college education following the culmination of their high school career, achieving a satisfactory score on the SAT is absolutely vital. As a result, many students find themselves turning to unauthorized prescription medications such as Adderall in the hopes of procuring higher test scores.
When it comes to treating individuals diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Adderall is one of the most frequently prescribed medications to treat the disorder. According to recent studies conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Adderall is the number one most commonly abused prescription pill amongst young adults and when ingested prior to standardized tests such as the SAT, holds the potential to skew students’ test scores.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the medication, which comes in pill form is an amphetamine mixed with a dextroamphetamine that aims at honing in on the prefrontal cortex of the brain which is in charge of controlling attention span, decision-making, and expression or personality . When ingested by somebody diagnosed with ADHD, Adderall essentially allows their brain to function normally as someone without the disorders’ brain would. However, when an individual without a diagnosed form of ADHD ingests the pill, the same reaction takes place in the brain, only resulting in a much more heightened effect.
Senior Delia Ferguson takes Adderall daily in order to treat her ADHD and claimed that without her medication, she experiences difficulty focusing on simple tasks.
“Obviously it helps me focus better but when I don’t take my Adderall, it takes me a lot longer to complete simple assignments and I can’t remember things as easily,” said Ferguson.
Senior Kyle Peterson (the student’s real identity was requested to be kept private due to confidentiality concerns) has had firsthand experience with Adderall in regards to taking it in conjunction with the SAT.
“I took the SAT once before but it was really hard to focus and I literally found myself falling asleep like every twenty minutes,” said Peterson.
Soon after taking the SAT his first time, Peterson heard from one of his friends about how she’d taken Adderall before taking the test herself and that it had helped her focus more efficiently. However, she wasn’t advocating that Peterson follow her example.
“My scores increased by 200 points, which wasn’t just because of the Adderall, I studied my butt off but I didn’t find myself getting distracted or falling asleep,” said Peterson.
What abusers of the drug don’t take into account are that the long term effects of Adderall on the body are still virtually unknown other than the increased risk of cardiovascular problems and potential risk for stroke. Another negative side of the drug’s qualities involve a slew of side effects including, but not limited to, increased heart rate, insomnia, headache, and loss of appetite along with high potential for addiction.
In 2010, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health discovered that approximately 11.4% of young people aged 12 to 25 had taken prescription pills that were not prescribed to them within the past year. It was also found that 30 to 40% of those in possession of Adderall either abused it, or had supplied it to peers lacking a prescription at some point in time.
Ingesting a performance enhancing drug before sitting down to take a standardized test can be quite similarly compared to that of athletes shooting up with steroids. There’s a reason it’s illegal and ends up blurring the lines between legitimate versus chemically induced talent. Not to mention, if by chance an individual decides to take a standardized test such as the SAT while under the influence of such a drug is caught, their test will immediately be invalidated.
In a society where acceptance to college is so brutally competitive with an equally competitive job market awaiting those who successfully graduate, students feel the pressures to attain academic perfection, being pushed so far as to seek out an artificial means of attaining the necessary grades. While the allure of potentially higher test scores may initially attract students desperate to impress colleges, the bottom line is that Adderall is a prescription, and should only be administered to those truly struggling with a behavioral disorder such as ADHD.
Hannah Crosby/News Editor