Elizabeth Suggs, reporter, [email protected]
According to University of Utah Health Sciences, Ritalin is the most commonly prescribed medication for ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), and is currently being prescribed to nearly six million U.S. citizens. Yet, for many college-aged students, Adderall is increasingly becoming what is known as the “study drug,” according to USCience review, an undergraduate-run magazine from the University of Southern California.
“Even if students did try to falsely claim ADHD, the tests we have set up would pick them out quickly,” Eseme Anderson, director of Medical Services and Family Practitioner, said. “Usually students just think they have ADHD right before tests because they’re so over worked from finals.”
The appeal for Adderall over Ritalin, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, is the potency of Adderall, which is far superior than Ritalin, making Adderall the clinical choice three-to-one.
Many students, such as Johnny Call, a sophomore at UVU studying Film, don’t agree that either Adderall or Ritalin will really help students if they aren’t already interested in the subject matter, no matter how much they want it to work.
Call was diagnosed with ADHD in high school, which he was then prescribed Ritalin. Later, out of high school, he tried Adderall. Neither of which helped.
“Adderall made me nauseous, Ritalin just made me calm,” Call said. “It didn’t help me in school because I wasn’t interested in school.”
Mike Cluck, a junior studying Computer Science at UVU, says it did help him concentrate, even for the un-interesting classes.
“I would literally spend eight hours a night for a two page paper,” Cluck said. “It was just not possible for me to do that work.”
Currently, he takes thirty milligrams of Ritalin after upping his dosage from ten milligrams a few years ago.
One individual, who wishes to remain anonymous, chose to take non-prescribed Adderall to both help her while she worked in school and overcome an addiction to Meth, all while she was juggling motherhood. A coworker gave her Adderall, which helped her focus for six months before going cold turkey.
She says the appeal with Adderall came because of it being a methamphetamine.
“Adderall helped me focus,” she said. “It was the only way I could go through school.”
The idea to be prescribed Adderall hadn’t crossed her mind. There are many different tests for ADHD. These tests mainly comprise a doctor’s visit and a medical history examination but some add in a few of their own tests to make cheating through to get Ritalin or Adderall that much more difficult. At UVU it’s made up mostly of auditory and visual tests.
In the case of one Utah Valley University student, who also chooses to remain anonymous, he had two tests. One was a paper test in which he sat and answered questions, whereas the other was a computer test consisting mostly of flashing the numbers one and two and testing the interactive time on how long and how accurate it took to click the flashing number one compared to clicking the number two.
“It measures your response time and how long you can focus,” he said. “I guess you could fake it by clicking more twos than ones, but maybe they have a way of finding out if you’re lying or not.”
According to Anderson, however, it is actually harder to cheat than many may realize.
“The paper tests are what the students could easily fake on, but it’s nearly impossible on the computer,” Anderson said.
To get tested for ADHD at UVU, the consultation is $60, which doesn’t include any medication. In a normal setting the consultation can cost $100 per hour session or more, according to the psychological testing website of Jonathan Rich, Ph.D.