With finals fast approaching, students have begun preparing for the long nights ahead of them. They have begun to organize and rewrite notes, arrange study sessions with friends and plan out library hours. But for nearly one in four college students across the country, preparing for exams will also mean placing a prescription at a pharmacy — or just a phone call to a friend.
Students at Stony Brook University are no different, and Adderall, referred to as the “stock market drug,” is quickly skyrocketing in price in student-to-student transactions as demand for it soars.
“There are two ways to get a hold of the drugs,” said a student who asked to be referred to as P.Bids for the interview. “You’ve got people who have a legitimate prescription and sell their meds, or you’ve got people who buy prescriptions off of someone.” Either way, Adderall conspicuously dries up.
“I have one friend who actually needs the drug,” P.Bids said. “He’s been prescribed it since he was a little kid, and I know he was once losing his mind because during finals week he couldn’t find a single pharmacy that had any [Adderall] left because all of the schools on Long Island were having finals at the same time. He ended up having to drive all the way out to some obscure Duane Reade in Queens.”
The effects of the amphetamine drug make it easy for students to see the appeal.
“The best side effect is a 3.5 GPA,” said one student who asked to be identified as John. “I took a psych class that I didn’t open a book for all semester and still managed to get an 87 on the final exam.” According to John, the effects of increased concentration and energy helped him to go from a 3.1 GPA to a 3.4 GPA while pledging a fraternity.
His girlfriend, who asked to be identified as Tish, began taking Adderall last semester and reported that with its help she was able to get herself off of academic probation.
John and Tish reported that they only used the drug to write important papers and study for midterms and finals. According to John, the two are acting with the majority of Adderall users.
“I don’t feel like the drug itself is addicting, but the effects are definitely addicting,” Tish said. “Sometimes, when I’m studying without it, I get distracted just thinking about how much more productive I could be if I was taking it.”
Other students like P.Bids found the drug easy to become dependent on.
“I don’t take Adderall anymore because it was getting to a point where I felt like I needed it to do things,” he said. “I don’t want to feel like I need to take something just to get myself to the store. I don’t even like drinking coffee in the morning.”
Dependency is not the only possible downside. All three individuals reported that chain smoking was common for Adderall users and Tish reported an experience in which she experienced severe heart palpitations after taking 100 mg of the drug.
“I took too much one night, I really did feel like I was about to have a heart attack,” she said. “Now I try to spread out my intake.”
According to P.Bids, who calls himself a former “go-to person” when it came to pointing people in the right direction to finding Adderall at Stony Brook, the drug is so dangerous because it is highly available in social networks in which recreational drugs are used and students don’t actually realize what they’re taking.
“I don’t think people actually realize that they’re taking speed,” P.Bids said. “The medical term Adderall makes it sound like something legitimate and safe, but it can actually be really dangerous especially because kids don’t realize that there are two types of pills — rapid release and extended release. A lot of the time, kids pop Adderall before a test and then go out to drink, if they’re taking extended release without knowing it, they’re mixing uppers and downers, and that’s really dangerous.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Adderall use in adults can result in sudden death, stroke, myocardial infarction and hypertension.
Medical problems aren’t the only risks students run when they choose to take what many refer to as a “study buddy.” According to Stony Brook University Chief of Police Robert Lenahan, “if you’re caught, you can be arrested.”
In Lenahan’s experience, illegally selling Adderall can be considered a Class B felony and can result in a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. Being caught in possession of a small amount of the drug is considered a misdemeanor. According to Lenahan, a misdemeanor on Stony Brook University’s campus will result in a student being arrested, brought through the court system and referred to the university judiciary system.
It’s a heavy price to pay for good grades.