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A New Study Buddy

Monday, Apr. 25, 2011

It has been a hectic fall quarter. Jack is checking his finals schedule: two exams on Tuesday (back to back) and two on Wednesday. How is he going to possibly do all of this studying? As he sits looking over his notes, Amanda, a classmate sits next to him, and he complains about  the amount of work he's going to have to do.

She suggests Jack take a pill to help him concentrate and study better: Adderall. He really doesn't know what Adderall is, but Amanda says it will be okay.  She has a prescription (a lot of kids take it for attention deficit disorder to help them focus), and he can trust her. She assures him that many college kids take Adderall and other drugs to help them study during finals week. Does Jack take the pill, believing his classmate and hoping that this will really help? Or does he decide that maybe it's not such a good idea to be taking pills to study especially if it's someone else's prescription?

Here are some resources that may be helpful:

 Is Using Study Drugs Cheating

Towards responsible use of cognitive-enhancing drugs by the healthy (Nature)

Adderall (& Other Stimulant) Abuse on Campus

Framework for Ethical Decision Making


Photo by hipsxxheart available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial License.


Comments Comments

Deepti Shenoy said on Apr 26, 2011
Using Adderall without a prescription is substance abuse. It violates a law meant to stop such abuse, which is itself based on an ethical foundation that doesn't allow an individual to deliberately cause harm to him/herself. These kinds of abuses can become habits and, in the long term, our entire society pays the price. In the short term, it could be argued that students drink huge amounts of coffee and soda to stay awake during tests. How is consuming Adderall any different from consuming caffeine? The difference is that coffee and soda are things every student has access to. Consumption of these beverages doesn't make the playing field any less level. But taking a prescription drug like Adderall, which has to be obtained through illegal means, creates an unfair advantage for the person taking it. Jack should look for other ways to manage his studying. If he isn't able to handle everything, he should ask his professors if they might be willing to give him extensions. If they're really not willing to help, Jack should start studying in advance and try to make sure he doesn't do everything at the last minute. Having two exams on Tuesday and two on Wednesday is a tough break, but taking a prescription drug illegally is not a good way to deal with it. - Like
Cameron Tow said on Apr 27, 2011
Adderall is a prescription drug for a reason. It is simply not safe for all people to use. Some will react very differently than others because everyone's brain chemistry is different. That's why Adderall is not the only prescription ADHD drug on the market. Concerta, Ritalin, and others are designed to have the same effect as Adderall, but what works for some may not work for others. Beyond the efficacy of the drug, there are other issues. Jack may have a heart condition that he is not aware of, or he may simply not be aware that Adderall use/abuse can lead to heart failure, seizures, or stroke in some people with pre-existing conditions, or even none at all. The administration of drugs like Adderall is monitored because there is both a risk of negative health consequences, as well as a high risk of abuse and dependency. The FDC is not evil. I'm sure if a magic pill that could make you study harder was safe for everyone to take at any time, the drug would be sold over the counter. But it isn't, and if Jack feels like he needs to take Adderall to study, he should talk to a doctor. Ethically, I don't see a problem with using stimulants. It's not cheating to find a way to study harder. If the stimulant wasn't prescription or dangerous, I would say, why not? But since it is a controlled substance, I have to say that it is definitely not a good idea for Jack to take the pill. - Like
Margarita said on Apr 27, 2011
No, Jack should not take Adderall to focus. While his midterm or assignment may be important, jack's health should come first. My classmate's roommate took Aderall once and was satisfied with the results, so it became a habit during late night cram sessions and long readings. She soon experienced trouble sleeping and headaches. Dependency on any drug is not a good thing. Jack. Don't do it. - Like
Miriam Schulman said on Apr 28, 2011
Cameron and Deepti have covered the legal and medical reasons why taking someone else's prescription is a bad idea. But the day may not be far off when so-called cognitive enhancements--drugs that improve mental functioning--are even safer than Adderall. Will they then become legal, even over-the-counter, medications? Is there anything inherently wrong with taking a safe drug that may improve your performance? A 2008 commentary in the influential scientific journal Nature argued that drugs such as Adderall " should be viewed in the same general category as education, good health habits, and information technologyways that our uniquely innovative species tries to improve itself." The authors "call for a presumption that mentally competent adults should be able to engage in cognitive enhancement using drugs." I'm not so sure about this. When I look around at my kids and their friends, I see a group that is already under tremendous stress to perform. They are constantly racing to some study group or test prep class or extracurricular activityall in the hope of getting a little edge over the next guy. I fear we've given students the impression that what they can accomplish on their own steam in the 24 hours a day we've all been given is simply not enough. They must always be better, faster, smarter. If they need to take a pill to accomplish this, well, so be it. That's an idea worth challenging. Maybe students taking stimulants will do better on tests. Will this make them happier? Will it mean they will make a greater contribution to society? There's no reason to think so, and in the meantime, we all may be pushed into living our lives in a more pressured way. That's not a choice I personally want to make. - Like
Nadia Garcia said on Apr 29, 2011
Like others have said before, adderall is a pill that should only be taken when prescribed. If it was safe or permissible to take it whenever, it would be readily available. It is a drug, a drug that affects the mesolimbic reward pathway of the brain, just like methamphetamine and cocaine, so why is it that may do not see the potential dangers of this pill? Even further, I see as a type of steroid; it enhances a person's abilities and gives them an unfair advantage over other students who don't use it. The use of the pill may seem to help during a long study night or two, but in the long run, you will only left with headaches, insomnia, and perhaps and addiction to the drug. - Like - 1 person likes this.
David DeCosse said on Apr 29, 2011
Here are three ethical reasons that Jack should decline the offer of the Adderall. First, taking the drug violates the principle of fair play: Jack may have a friend who has access to the pills but what of all of the others in their class who have no such friend? Second, taking the drug could do harm to Jack: Prescription pills are powerful -- that's why our society requires them to be issued only by prescription. Third, taking the drug subverts the possibility of Jack developing character traits like honesty and organization: Why bother with such development if a little magic pill is always near at hand? But I"m also going to presume that these three reasons -- any one of which should suffice to stop Jack from taking the pill -- will probably fall on deaf ears. Call it our hyper-competitive culture. Call it fear of not finding work after you graduate. Call it everybody-else-is-doing-it-so-why-shouldn't-I? So I'd like to move the conversation to a level beyond a purely rational appeal. Specifically: Do you believe that you have something unique and important to offer the world? I'm not saying that everyone needs to be the next Bill Gates or Beyonce. But I am saying that cheating arises from a faithlessness in one's life and its promise. We don't think we're worth that much. We don't think that we have that much to offer. And so the cost of cheating seems appealingly low and the reasons not to cheat are so much chaff, easy to brush off. - Like
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Tags: adderall, ethics, stimulant, study drug