It’s finals week and you’re a sophomore at Lehigh University. You’ve already procrastinated for the last three weeks by watching Netflix until the wee-hours of the night or socializing at an off-campus party. You know 20 percent of your grade depends on next week’s accounting exam, but you decide to wait and study, for it’s only Monday and that test isn’t until next Tuesday. It’s suddenly Sunday and now you begin to worry. You have seven chapters to read in two days. What do you do? All of a sudden you remember your friend who told you he could cram out four accounting chapters in three hours because his Adderall prescription keeps him focused. You think for a moment, grab your phone and shoot him a text: “Hey, can you sell me some addy?”
Abusing prescription drugs in college is a problem throughout the United States. CNN once reported that the most popular prescription drugs among college students are ADHD medications like Adderall and Vyvanse. In 2009, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health performed a study called “Nonmedical Use of Adderall among Full-Time College Students.” Researchers found that 64 percent of 18 to 22-year-old full-time college students had used Adderall in the past year. None of these college students had been prescribed the drug. 70 percent of full-time college students ages 21 or 22 also used the drug in a nonmedical situation. While this survey included colleges throughout the country, Kiersten Moore, a junior at Lehigh University created her own study in which she surveyed Lehigh students, ranging from freshmen to seniors, about “study drugs,” such as Adderall.
“I’ve known people in high school and even at Lehigh who have sold their prescribed ADHD medication to students without ADHD,” Moore said. “I’ve talked to people who have taken Adderall right before a big test, who don’t medically need the drug, just because they say it helps them stay focused and makes them feel smarter.”
Moore found that 65 percent of the students that took her survey have used Adderall or other medications known to be “study drugs.” On the contrary, 35 percent of students have never experienced these medications. On average, most students who did answer “yes” to using Adderall or other types of study drugs claimed they only used the drug during a big test or had only used the drug a few times total. Less than 20 percent of students admitted to using study drugs once or twice a week or daily.
One of Moore’s questions asked students if they thought taking study drugs actually impacted academic performance. 82 percent of students said yes and only 18 percent disagreed.
“Although I am not prescribed the drug, I do think study drugs are effective,” said Anna Eggert ’16. “Many of my friends have an Adderall prescription and they always seem so focused and able to do their work at any moment, while for me, going to the library and actually sitting down to study is a process and takes time.”
According to Moore, she found that people ranked Lehigh 8 (on a scale to 1-10) when it came down to how prevalent study drugs are on campus- one being least prevalent and 10 being most.
What students may not know is that taking study drugs or selling them without a prescription at Lehigh can cause some serious consequences. The Lehigh University Police Department Associated Policies and Regulations say, “The University will not tolerate the sale of illegal drugs on campus. The University will take decisive action against any individual who is involved in drug trafficking.” These drugs don’t include illegal substances like marijuana, but legal and prescription drugs as well.
“I honestly didn’t even know you could get into major trouble at Lehigh for selling ADHD medication to students,” Ryan Bertrando ’16 said. “I mean, I understand why it could be dangerous, but I feel like there are more serious matters to take care of at this school before citing someone for selling Adderall.”