By Kelsey Bell
Judging from my call log, my last semester at college was my most popular yet. I’d get texts from unfamiliar numbers, friends-of-friends, and people I haven’t seen since, well, the last time they had a big exam coming up. Sadly, it wasn’t me who was popular. It was my Adderall.
I don’t sell the drug. I do take it though, legally, with a prescription written out in my name after going through several tests and consults by different doctors. The fact that I have a steady supply of something people will pay a good amount of money for is reason enough for these fair-weather-friends to assume that I might get rid of a few pills here and there for a little cash.
When I first got my Adderall prescription, I was told not to “just leave them lying around on your desk, because a lot of kids like them…” And they don’t give refills. Each month when I walk up to the CVS Pharmacy counter, I have to have a doctor signed prescription ( it can’t be called in or faxed over) and a state-issued ID in hand.
No ID, no pills, and no refills if you lose the pills because kids sell them, and well, selling U.S. Schedule II – Controlled Substances is frowned upon.
Other drugs in this schedule include cocaine, opium, oxycodone, and morphine. Their classification is determined by their high potential for abuse leading to psychological and/or physical dependence. They’re serious drugs, but they also have a medical use, the only characteristic that differentiates them from the highest classification of drugs that are illegal for anyone to possess, Schedule I drugs. Interestingly, although there have been no recorded deaths ever from it, marijuana is a Schedule I drug, while mixed amphetamine salts, such as Adderall, have caused many deaths and are still listed in Schedule II.
Despite the threat of corporal punishment, come finals, there are some students whose pockets become much deeper as they sell Adderalls and Ritalins for cash.
For some, the pills are leftovers, and for others who never really needed them but who successfully convinced a doctor that they did (and the names of these doctors are often passed around campus as well), they are an opportunity to make money.
The money is good. Depending on the time of the year and the desperation of the student body, a 20 mg pill can be sold for as little as $5 to as much as $20. A bottle of these pills is then worth anywhere from $150 to $600. That’s a good amount of cash. And they really sell.
Of course they do.
A known side effect of amphetamines is loss of appetite resulting in weight loss, and I don’t need to tell you that thin is the current mainstream aesthetic ideal. As for athletics, I can tell you first hand there are a few reasons why the National Collegiate Athletic Association lists amphetamines on their banned substances list (beside the obvious illegality).
The first is for fair competition. Exercising on Adderall during the first month of usage is for many people a euphoric experience. You can run faster, lift more weight and generally work harder with less fatigue.
The second reason is safety. Any medicine that comes with a label warning against taking it and operating machinery before knowing its effects should also be avoided when participating in sports. Student-athletes prescribed Adderall are required to take an EKG and submit the results before being cleared to compete.
I don’t directly blame the Adderall for the two accidents I had during springboard diving competitions, but it’s worth mentioning that in a nine-year athletic career I’d never once been injured, and I was hurt twice in one week when I started the medication.
It’s also worth mentioning that despite these accidents, I am still taking Adderall. I always felt like my mind worked a bit differently and I seemed to have more trouble with simple tasks than my peers. Eventually, organizing myself to get through the day or even finding an item in CVS became so overwhelming that I sought help. I had neurological tests that confirmed the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Inattentive (the new name for what used to be called Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD).
Without the aid of the drug, I wouldn’t be functioning in school and work at the same level as those around me. I can’t afford not to take this medicine, given the current job market.
That being said, I can’t help but agree with this assertion by Francis Fukuyama in his book, Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution, who reminds us, “The original purpose of medicine is to heal the sick, not turn healthy people into gods.”
Am I sick and treating myself in order to heal a mental illness? Or am I trying to reengineer my brain to adapt to our modern society? I’m not entirely sure.