Teenagers, Pills and Success

In high-achieving school districts and private academies across America, students are desperate to win top grades and impressive achievements. No longer content to study for hours only to earn a B, these pressure-packed kids are increasingly turning to ADHD medicines such as Adderall and Ritalin to get that extra edge. And while these drugs are effective at helping people focus, the downside is severe. Are our kids paying too steep a price for short-lived success?

Adderall and Ritalin Are Prescription Amphetamines

Adderall and Ritalin, two commonly prescribed stimulants, are powerful amphetamines that work in the brain to improve focus and memory retention when taken in small, tightly controlled doses. For kids and adults with serious attention and hyperactivity problems, these drugs can be a godsend. But for those who don’t have attention problems and take them illegally, not only is there scant evidence the drugs actually help, there is significant evidence they hurt.

Getting these drugs is easy, and they have a safe perception because they come from the pharmacy instead of the street, according to the New York Times. Students, under tremendous pressure to win coveted spots in the country’s most competitive colleges and universities, either purchase drugs from classmates or fake symptoms to get their own prescriptions. What they don’t know is that amphetamines are dangerously addictive.

Classified Alongside Cocaine and Morphine

The federal government classifies drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall alongside notorious substances cocaine and morphine. As such, giving or selling pills to classmates who want to use them for studying is a federal offense. And while these drugs have a calming effect on those with true ADHD symptoms, those who don’t have ADHD find the euphoric jolt of energy addictive. Because these drugs negatively affect sleep patterns, many wind up making a bad problem worse by adding a prescription sleep aid — many of which are addictive on their own.

The Bottom Line

The most recent research indicates that taking a prescription stimulant may not even help grades all that much, according to Science Daily. The bottom line? Taking a prescription stimulant not only greatly increases the chances of developing a serious addiction problem, but for those without ADHD, they may not even help enough to warrant skipping what really works: good old-fashioned study

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