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Anna Gibertini, Paper 5

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Anna Gibertini

Anne Dalke

Paper #5

October 2, 2009

Drug Use in College: This is Higher Education?

            In my last essay, I gave a detailed account of my daily regimen of prescription and OTC medication. The purpose of consuming these medications was to decrease the chances of illness and the anxiety over becoming ill by maintaining a constant state of good health, although anxiety can quickly result from missing even just one pill).  Unfortunately, I found that the majority of college students in America did not share my obsession with medicines for good health.  In fact, the only pills that seemed to give a vast majority of college students any pleasure were Adderall and Viagra.  The abuse of these drugs is growing on college campuses due to academic stress, and the desire to impress one’s peers and fulfill the desires of a testosterone-soaked brain.

            Adderall is by far the most popular prescription drug on college campuses today, and it is only intended to help those afflicted with the genuine, mental condition of ADHD.  This medication is categorized as a stimulant, a drug that enhances focus, clarity of mind, and increases energy.  However, college students (both the 4% who actually do have ADHD and the 96% who do not [based on adult ADHD figures worldwide]) see in it a godsend study aid.  As reported by New York Times columnist Andrew Jacobs, “As many as 20 percent of college students have used Ritalin or Adderall to study, write papers and take exams.” (Jacobs)  The drug’s ability to keep students awake and focused causes them to develop a dependence on the drug, and regular students will morph in regular drug-dealers.  As reported by Jacobs, “She [Libby, a junior at Columbia University] often sells her 10-milligram tablets to strangers for $5 or barters them with friends for meals.” (Jacobs)  This trend is most popular at more competitive colleges, which comes as simultaneously shocking and unsurprising (College Adderall Abuse and Its Dangers).  I say this because while such drug use is unsurprising that academic rigor would cause already stressed students to seek alternative study aids to good time management and diligence, I am still surprised that such capable and intelligent students would have little care for the health risks that come with forming drug dependencies.  Many of the side effects of Adderall are dangerous (such as weight loss, increased heart rate, infection, and increase in blood pressure) and could prove to be disruptive to study habits when not on the medication (such as emotional changes, nausea, headaches, and difficulty sleeping) (“Adderall Side Effects”).

            Social anxieties and the “wild party” mentality of college has caused a rise in another dangerous drug dependency.  Viagra, the enormously popular medication for erectile dysfunction disorder, is being sold just as widely and often as Adderall among college students.  Young men believe that this medication will cause them to have more sexual endurance and a shorter refractory period.  The medicine is easily obtained without a prescription over the Internet, and is often sold at parties as well.  What they do not realize is that taking Viagra can cause irregular drops in blood pressure in people with heart problems and several deaths have gone unpublicized since the introduction of the medication to the market.  At college parties, these drugs are often taken with designer drugs (such as ecstasy, speed, angel dust, etc), which can severely impact judgment (“The New Young Face of Viagra Abuse”).  Social anxiety and body images fit into this drug dependency as well.  Young men will take the drug early on in a relationship to impress their girlfriends, but later feel a psychological dependence on it because they doubt their own sexual abilities.  Overwhelming feelings of an inability to perform and be the “sexual superman” they believe their significant others perceive them as takes a heavy toll on the young men’s psyche (“The New Young Face of Viagra Abuse”).  Without the “blue diamond” (Viagra’s street name) these perfectly desirable young men see themselves transforming back into young, inexperienced boys at the cusp of puberty.

            Health has been put on the backburner of college students’ list of priorities.  I did not uncover any sort of evidence to suggest that college students take care of themselves through the heavy use of supplements I employ, although I can’t see any reason why not to considering how easy it is to become unhealthy and ill at college.  Instead, unfair academic excellence and dishonest social value seem to be what most people of my demographic are concerned with.  Here I pose a question about the character of a Bryn Mawr woman: In light of the strict Honor Code implemented at Bryn Mawr, do students consider it “cheating” to use prescription Adderall (I am going to completely reject the idea of Bryn Mawr students using Viagra for anatomic and sexual reasons) to assist them with their studies?  And if they do not, how often do they use the drug; or, how much of their work is indebted to a stimulant rather than their own diligence and passion for excellence in academia?





Works Cited

“Adderal Side Effects.”  eMedTV.  Clinearo, 2009.  Web.  2 October 2009.

“College Adderall Abuse and Its Dangers.”  Defective Drugs.  Defective Drugs, 2             October 2009. Web.  2 October 2009.

Jacobs, Andrew.  “The Adderall Advantage.”  The New York Times, 31             July 2005.  Web.  2 October 2009.

 “The New Young Face of Viagra Abuse.”  Chicago Tribune.  Chicago Tribune, 21             December 2003. Web. 2 October 2009.