Students, health teacher discuss use, misuse of prescription ADD, ADHD medications

Makayla Nicholis, Staff Writer

He’s twiddling his thumbs.
He’s tapping his foot.
He’s biting his nails.
He won’t stop talking, and he hasn’t heard a word the teacher’s said.
This is a student with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) — someone who needs medication to help him pay attention in class.
“ADHD makes it harder to focus and your mind’s always everywhere,” sophomore Zach Miller said. “Adderall basically helps you to focus on one major thing so you can listen in school. When I forget to take it, basically I cannot listen in class — it’s awful. I will not be able to focus or listen to the teacher, and I will be talking a lot because all of that energy that has been condensed is getting let loose. Adderall is supposed to take all that energy down.”
Yes, some people actually need to take pills to keep their concentration intact. But what about the ones taking Adderall who have never been diagnosed?
There are people who don’t have trouble paying attention to one thing at a time who still find a way to pop some pills.
Reasons for the misuse of Adderall could include trying to stay awake, attempting to study for longer periods of time or making an effort to get better grades on standardized tests.
The question is whether or not this method actually works.
“When you don’t have ADHD, Adderall will just keep you up, and it won’t help you focus and you won’t remember anything.” Miller said. “It’s kind of a myth that it will help you because it just takes all that energy and basically blows it up. The fact that you can focus when you don’t have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or ADHD — Adderall makes it so you just can’t. It may help you stay up so you can study, but then during the test there’s a chance that you will just crash or forget everything you studied.”
Adderall is set up in a milligram system, meaning it can be counterproductive and even dangerous to take any amount that hasn’t been prescribed to you.
“My brother has ADD, and I have ADHD,” Miller said. “I have a 20-milligram prescription, and he has a 25-milligram prescription. I took his on accident, and that can basically just set you off. It’ll just give you a massive amount of energy, and you will not be able to control yourself.”
Miller said for people with ADD or ADHD, the medication works just fine, but not without some side effects.
“[The side effects] include loss of hunger, lack of sleep and tics — like playing with your fingers and tapping your foot.” Miller said.
Without ADD, Adderall will just enhance those effects until the user is jittering instead of focusing. Health and Wellness teacher Peggy Rose said she believes Adderall is effective for some students.
“Personally, I don’t know which of my students are medicated and which are not, but others take the drugs Ritalin or Concerta.” Rose said. “It takes a long time for doctors to figure out which drug works best for each student.”
However, Rose said she doesn’t think students should be taking a drug that is not prescribed to them.
As for taking Adderall before tests, Rose said she disagrees with the technique.
“If the ACT is a predictor of success in college, will you be self-medicating all of college, too?” she said. “And then as an adult at your job?”

Terms defined:
Medications: Adderall, Ritalin and Concerta are types of drugs designed to help control the effects of ADD and ADHD.
ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder is the inability to focus due to physical unrest.
ADD: Attention Deficit Disorder is the inability to mentally focus on one thing at a time.