Adderall: The Secret Cheater?

By Aimee Leon

Adderall is one of the most commonly prescribed amphetamines. Several side effects are acute alertness, improved concentration and euphoria. It is generally used to treat narcolepsy and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, also known as ADHD, according to Everyday Health’s article, “What is Adderall?” Due to the effects of this drug, the use among college students has dramatically increased. It is said that most college students are twice more likely to abuse stimulants, such as Adderall, more than people who do not attend college, especially for students during exams, according to Addiction Center’s article, “Adderall, Addiction, Abuse and Treatment.”

Photo Credit: Patrick Mal- lahan III/

Photo Credit: Patrick Mal- lahan III/

For some college students, studying has become a difficult feat. As a result, many college students have been taking Adderall to improve their concentration on their studies in order to stay active and stay social. Apart from the pressures of final exams, the need to do well is vital for most students who have high tuitions. In addition to this, college is so costly these days that this is an added pressure for the student to do well.

This has raised certain issues and puts into question as to whether or not the heightened focus produced from this drug should be regarded as cheating. Many academic magazines have claimed Adderall as the, “academic steroid,” including Yale Daily News Magazine.

The use of Adderall by a non-prescribed user is an irrefutable form of cheating. “When a person without ADHD takes ADHD medication, it gives them super-sharp attention and concentration. It enhances their existing cognitive abilities for many who take it. And in a way, it’s no different than an athlete who’s pumped steroids,” John M. Grohl said, according to his PsychCentral article, “Is Taking Adderall to Boost College Performance Cheating?” Many people share this opinion, “it’s cheating. It’s immoral. And it’s part of the American nightmare,” J. J. Colagrande said, according to his Huffington Post article, “Adderall: Where Cheaters Always Win and Winners Always Cheat.”

Is this practice really so grave? Is the use of Adderall by non-prescribed students considered cheating? Perhaps people feel this way because at some level, students are aware that taking this drug without a prescription is wrong. However, it is possible that some students will disagree. “It is because the person still needs to study, and the exams given here are tests of memorization, not performance,” Aaron Swede-Taillon, sophomore Information Systems major said.

“If students who are prescribed Adderall aren’t considered to be cheating, then it shouldn’t be considered cheating for everyone else. It’s either all cheating or not at all,” Sean Kinny, graduate Political Science major said. One can argue that everybody should be at the same level of playing field. Perhaps college students should stick with other well-known stimulant that enhances focus, such as coffee and energy drinks. What makes these stimulants acceptable to take, and not Adderall? Where does one draw the line? “I think the line is drawn when it is illegal. Because Adderall is a prescription only drug, if college students are using it to claim an advantage and are caught, it should be punishable both by law, and by the University under their code for cheating,” Erik Berthagen, junior Marketing major said.

Photo Credit: neur0nz/

Photo Credit: neur0nz/

In order to address this issue, one must first define what “cheating” truly means. The definition of cheating is to, “act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage, especially in a game or examination,” according to the Oxford Dictionaries. In order for someone to act dishonestly or unfairly, they have to break a certain rule.

However, taking medication that is not prescribed to you is clearly illegal. So, if a non-prescribed user was punished for taking Adderall, it would be for the consequence of illicit possession and consumption of a controlled substance and not because of cheating. If there were no written rules against the use of steroids in athletic competitions, then athletes taking the drug will not be regarded as cheaters.

It is understood why there are those who attest that taking Adderall should be considered cheating. What can we do regarding the control and illegal distribution of this drug? Like any drug, there is a black market, and the black market is not under the control of the universities, the law handles it. Should the law enforcement crack down on the distribution of Adderall? If colleges take initiative to publicly acknowledge that students are taking this drug illicitly, and if they put forward statements to formally declare Adderall as cheating, the consequences of the users should be punishable under the same scrutiny as regular cheating.


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