Using study-enhancing drugs is cheating

Every finals week, or hell week as some like to call it, there are some things you’re guaranteed to come across: all-nighters, coffee, junk food and espresso (oh, did I mention coffee already?) Recently, many students are adding something else to this list. Adderall is an amphetamine prescribed to people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It helps them calm down and concentrate. But when people without ADHD use it, it has a reverse effect. It gives them limitless energy, concentration and alertness.

This is cheating. It gives students an unfair advantage. I’ve never taken it and feel cheated when I hear of students having marathon study sessions and acing an exam. Their ability to focus for so long makes it easy for them to study, write papers and finish projects. And they usually do this while actually having a life.

Photo from Creative Commons.

Even as a writer, I have a very hard time cranking out papers and articles while attending class and working close to 30 hours a week. Achieving academically should take time and effort, and these drugs are providing shortcuts. These drugs don’t make you smarter, but it makes it easier to get your work done.

I think it would surprise a lot of people to realize how relevant and successful these drugs are. I’ve heard people accredit their degree to taking Adderall. The Yale Daily News calls Adderall and Ritalin “Academic Steroids” in a 2005 article. Students use Adderall as a lifeline to solve all of their academic issues. That shouldn’t be what college is about. It’s about using time management, making sacrifices and working hard to get the results you want. Not popping a pill to make it easier.

A friend, who won’t be named, used to make a killing at finals time by selling her ADHD medication. And from people you don’t expect. This drug is one that doesn’t discriminate–the super smart to the pothead burn out. And long term use comes with serious consequences. I could go on and on about the dangers of study enhancing drugs, but I think we know what happens. After a while, you need the drug to do anything. You can’t focus on basic homework. You’re addicted.

But that’s not what this is about. I think the university and professors need to become more aware of the drug use. Just the other day, I was walking out of class and heard a couple of students talking about it. They didn’t even use code words! They were just standing there discussing how much Adderall they were going to need to get through the week.

That’s actually what prompted my article. Taking these drugs is just as bad as looking off someone’s paper or paying the smart kid in class to write your paper for you. I refuse to play by the rules and struggle balancing school and life while others are just popping a magic pill to make their homework go away.

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