• Amy Laskowski

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    Photo of Amy Laskowski. A white woman with long brown hair pulled into a half up, half down style and wearing a burgundy top, smiles and poses in front of a dark grey backdrop.

    Amy Laskowski is a senior writer at Boston University. She is always hunting for interesting, quirky stories around BU and helps manage and edit the work of BU Today’s interns. She did her undergrad at Syracuse University and earned a master’s in journalism at the College of Communication in 2015. Profile

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There are 38 comments on The Perils of Adderall

  1. As a former school principal, I worked with many ADHD students. Many unlabeled students were abusing ADHD medications too.

    I found a technology company that works specifically with ADHD students and unlabeled students with attentional issues. It’s called Play Attention (www.playattention.com).

    Their use of feedback technology and cognitive skill building allowed most of my students to function at their capacities — essentially maximizing their capabilities.

    Medication teaches nothing. Students, educators, and parents must take an active role in making personal changes.

  2. Haha, you can take breaks, drink water and suck down coffee all you want. But there will always be those times in an academic setting where nothing works as effectively or for as long as a good old prescription amphetamine. Treat this drug like you’d treat any other drug… use your head. Start with a low mg dosage, take one pill, GIVE IT TIME, and then act accordingly. If your heart is racing and you’re grinding your teeth, you might wanna drink some water, focus on your work, or if you need to, take a 10 minute walk to exhaust some energy. Just don’t be stupid.

  3. I have yet to take Adderall, however, I have in the past tried to purchase some for the purpose of studying. Many young adults that I know, even college-aged kids who are not in school, sometimes take Adderall when they’re working on important projects and have deadlines to meet. From reading this article, it seems that the majority of students are not abusing the drug or becoming addicted, they are simply taking it once or twice a semester to get through projects, midterms, and finals. Are they posed the same risks for taking it in this way, or is the real threat the percentage of people who become addicted and expose themselves to the serious risks? I’d like to see more data on the amount of Adderall taken by students versus the adverse effects people get.

  4. “If your heart is racing and you’re grinding your teeth…” then you were already stupid and might need some serious medical help.

  5. Because of SHS’s ridiculous policies and requirement to take a 900 dollar test (if uninsured) for ADD, I was forced last year to rely on mail to get medication. I have been diagnosed with ADD for 7 years, but that isn’t good enough. I had several psychiatrists call, not good enough. Once I couldn’t afford testing, and USPS screwed up delivery, I was forced to buy it illegally.
    When I did go to SHS I was forced to sit next to people who may or may not have had swine flu. SHS psychiatric help is the biggest farce I have ever seen.

  6. As someone who is on a number of prescriptions, including Adderall, it’s really frustrating to hear of people who are taking it who don’t have to. It’s not that I have a problem with people trying to get an advantage in finishing their work– especially at this time of year– but more that when exams are over, you all can stop taking it. You don’t have to deal with the side effects, or worry about contacting your doctor so that you can get a new prescription before you run out of pills. You don’t have to open a pill bottle and count your pills, or debate whether or not it’s worth taking another dosage, since if you do you probably won’t sleep that night. I envy those of you who do not need to take prescription meds. I wish my brain chemistry were that good. I want it to be acknowledged that this drug wasn’t designed to help you cram for exams, but for people who can’t function normally without it.

    1. i wish i could say “I take adderalll when i need to study” or something along the lines of that. for whatever reason, i cannot focus on any given task with the help of this medicine. i feel weak admitting this, because according to many, all i have to do is “focus and pay attention”. well, iv tried. more then once. in kindergarten i used to walk around alone, because i was deemed crazy by all of the other kids. in 4th grade my doctor had me try a few medications, some made me a complete mute, some made me sad, some made me think horrible thoughts. in 6th grade i was put on a small dose of adderall. i felt normal, for the first time. without knowing what the drug was, i assumed it was a vitamin, and whenever i didnt take it i would laugh at everything, be louder then normal, and probably be extremely aggressive. it wasnt until i was out of high school that i fully understood i had been on a stimulant for more then half of my life. how had that affected my brain chemistry as i matured? did i grow up with a provided source of dopamine so my brain never had to make any on its own? i couldnt tell you. but i can tell you that iv been a lunatic, and not because i craved the pill, but because i just reacted without thinking, when i wasnt on it. im afraid that i will have some heart problem when im older. im afraid of the day i will no longer be able to take it. im afraid of my success in life without it. the right thing to do would be to deal with it, but when its all you know, and its been in your life more then it hasent been, and actually helps you be strong, caring, supportive, happy, motivated individual, how do you just stop it?

  7. Pose serious risks including “heart attack or stroke, anxiety, or headaches”. WELL, SO DOES CAFFEINE or any other stimulant for that matter. For the record: unless you have a serious heart condition, or attempt to snort 400mg+, adderall is extremely safe.

    When used responsibly (i.e. not in excessive doses, not used to stay awake for more than 2 days straight, etc.) adderall and other stimulants (Dexedrine, Vyvanse, Modafinil, etc. ) can have great cognitive-enhancing effects with minimal to no side effects.

    Caffeine is a neurostimulant, yet it’s socially acceptable for use. We live in an age where we have the ability to use cognitive enhancers to reach our full potential. Why turn an opportunity like that down?

  8. This creates a stigma against people with ADD/ADHD who use the drug. There is nothing wrong with the drug unto itself, but the message in this article suggests the contrary. There is a message in the article and there is a message that should be in the article.

    The message it actually gives is “Adderral is bad but we can’t really do anything about it if you get a prescription – so just feel bad about it.”

    The message it ought to give is “Don’t take take prescription drugs without a prescription because of heath and legal repercussions.”

    People with ADD/ADHD who read this article will have pressure to keep it a secret even though they have done wrong; in fact, they will hide a part of themselves because OTHERS exploit the existence of a condition (ADD/ADHD).

  9. As someone “diagnosed” with the disorder, I cannot stress the importance of a holistic approach. Having taken methylphenidate and adderall, I can report that they not only worked, it stunted my growth and almost prevented a career in naval aviation. I stopped prescribed use as a child AMA, and although grades could have been better during later schooling, it is incredible to me that someone would take this intentionally. Don’t take it.

    A thoughtful blog was written on the subject by an SMG student observing the consumption during a last minute Core meeting

  10. It annoys me how people use adderall when they don’t need it. I have ADD and have been on and off medication since I was in 5th grade. It’s not fair of these people because people with ADD actually need adderall to focus, and people like this make it harder to get.

  11. This might sound selfish, but i used adderall to study for every final. i dont have ADD but personally it helps me. so im sorry that it creates a stigma to people how have this problem but like me most kids in college are looking to get that one grade higher on their final and not what it means for others. Maybe college should try to not make me take 5 finals, to in one say within hrs of eachother and also make them cumulative causing me to stress all night. im just saying. il use adderall on this final then next one and the ones to come!

  12. I have ADHD and this article just made it seem as though someone who takes 10mg once a semester will have a heart attack. What about someone like me who has to take 40mg every day just to function?

    **Yes, scaring people who take a drug once a year will undoubtedly get them to stop taking it. And it certainly won’t scare those of us who take it every day.** (That’s sarcasm- apparently we’re not smart enough to understand sarcasm, based on the fact that we’re expected to believe this BS).

    Take a second to think about the stupidity presented here. Who writes these articles? Monkeys?? We’re students at an academic institution. We have access to countless journal articles and studies.

    Think about this: every cigarette smoker in the world is aware of the negative effects of smoking- cardiovascular, respiratory, etc.- has that helped a single one to stop? Not really! Please- let’s enter the 21st century. These ideas are so out-dated.

    Thanks for this article- now, not only do I have to deal with my messed up brain chemistry, but I also must be reminded that a drug that I was prescribed legally is a *bad drug* and will give me a stroke and a heart attack- and IMPOTENCE!! (sarcasm again). I already have panic disorder, do I really need another reason to have anxiety? Jesus.

    How and why are we letting this crap into our inboxes? Again, this is an academic institution- a high-ranking, large one with countless talented people- NPR is broadcast from here! BU needs to have higher standards. PERIOD.

    I’m incredibly disappointed with this article.

  13. While I have stopped taking adderall because of the anxiety it causes, I took it on and off for 2 years to help me study. The fact is, it works and as long as you don’t abuse it the risks to someone taking it illegally arent any greater than someone prescribed it. They are actually probably much less, since the typical student taking it to study doesnt do it EVERY DAY, while people with ADHD are prescribed daily doses. And as far as addiction goes, sure I got addicted and went through withdrawal a few times in those 2 years. It wasn’t the worst thing in the world, and there are many worse drugs out there *cough* alcohol *cough*

    I agree that the policies and laws that have been put into place to prevent abuse hurt people who actually need the drug, but don’t blame the recreational user. Blame the people making the policies that think they have the right to control what we put in our own body. Adderall, and many other drugs, should be to anyone who wants it, whether they “need” it or not.

  14. some people have real medical issues and need this drug. some people, a lot of people, are lazy and that’s why they use it. does any one else miss a time where people had the capacity to work hard and not take the easy way out?

  15. Ever notice how these articles come out almost every time toward finals? The side effects are NOT as destructive as they consistently claim. These institutions are constantly trying to brainwash people into believing adderall is so terrible for you, it’s not. If you have ADD which I do, you do NOT NEED to constantly take it either, another thing they’ve convinced you of. So many people are addicted to it, believing they need it to function because they’ve built such a terrible reliance on it.

    My own doctor warned me before prescribing me the drug, that he has adult patients over 40 years old taking extraordinary amounts of adderall and he cannot ween them off of it because of their belief that they cannot go on without it. Every drug should be used RESPONSIBLY including those college students under massive stress from the hard work environments of Universities today. Adderall is not a danger to society, university students or those with ADD unless you abuse it.

    And sometimes the amount you’re prescribed to take everyday is” abuse” so think before you take drugs and don’t blindly listen to a doctor.

  16. Wow. What if this article had interviewed some of the commenters? What a revealing piece it could’ve been. Read these quotes:

    “Sure I got addicted and went through withdrawal a few times in those 2 years. It wasn’t the worst thing in the world.”

    “There is nothing wrong with the drug unto itself.”

    “i used adderall to study for every final. i dont have ADD… Maybe college should try to not make me take 5 finals.”

    “I was forced to buy it illegally.”

    “There will always be those times in an academic setting where nothing works as effectively or for as long as a good old prescription amphetamine.”

    “We live in an age where we have the ability to use cognitive enhancers to reach our full potential. Why turn an opportunity like that down?”

    I have ADD. I took Ritalin through middle school then stopped. I noticed an improvement when I was on the drug, but I realized it was making me complacent. Not in a delusional way. I simply wasn’t admitting to myself that I had something to overcome. I was the way I was and I had to take a drug to succeed and sorry world if you don’t understand that but my doctor says its perfectly normal… Until I realized that taking the drug removed my ability to overcome my problem. If I stopped taking the pill, the problem remained. And was even more foreign to me than before. I wasn’t living with the problem, I was drowning it out. I was never going to get better. I was just learning to live with the pill rather than myself.

    Today, I don’t take drugs. I don’t even take tylenol. The mentality that it’s okay to be reliant on or addicted to a drug in order to achieve, proudly or not, is one I cannot wrap my head around. That you might share this mindset without a diagnosed condition, and then have the naiveté to assign blame to society or your college (that you chose to attend and build your own schedule for) suggests you are incapable of admitting what it is you have to work on to succeed on your own. Try yourself on for a change.

  17. I think there are certain instances where medication is the only option, but since labels like ADD and ADHD have become common they have been used as an excuse to medicate. How does a doctor know you have a chemical imbalance? Do they test your brain chemistry against “normal” brain function (whatever that it)? I don’t think so. They typically ask you a series of questions. This kind of analysis does not rule out other factors that could affect behavior. Most doctors do not first suggest other measures that could improve performance or change unwanted behavior without medication (eating well, exercise, removal of negative stimuli, etc…). Once labels with a tag, people use it as a crutch and accept that it is just how they are. Victory for big pharma who can now continue to sell their medication to that person for the rest of his/her life. That person now never will learn how to modify his/her behaviors themselves or learn a more health way of dealing with it. Adderall was first approved in 1960, but we still don’t know the long term effects of this and other drugs. How does if affect a person over his/her lifetime? How about their children? I don;t think we know the answers to these questions so it’s a risk, but one that is not taken serious enough.

    Read this interview with Prof. Leonard Glantz in the School of Public Health: http://www.bu.edu/today/2010/06/24/female-libido-pill-leaves-ethicist-cold&urlhash=aYwl&trk=news_discuss

    You can expand the same logic to any supposed chemical imbalance.

    @ 12:40pm: Just b/s you are legally prescribed a drug doesn’t mean it is good for you and that you should take it. Ever hear of thalidomide? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thalidomide. That was once legally prescribed too. Maybe if you got off the pills you would realize that you are not stuck with these so called disorders. And just b/c people still smoke cigarettes even though we know it’s deadly doesn’t mean we should stop reminding people about what is bad for them.
    @ 1:25pm: You make some good points, but it’s ridiculous to downplay the idea of having an addiction as if it’s no big deal.

  18. Anyone else feel the sudden urge to watch Reefer Madness?
    . . . . . . . . . . One of the great privileges of a Democracy is that when the law is out of sync, the law is eventually changed or ignored – even by those tasked to enforce the law. . . . . . . . . Like the laws against oversize buggy whips in Boston, this is an issue BU should ignore UNLESS they have some solid evidence that Adderall is unsafe in the way it is being used.

  19. Let’s ignore the fact that it’s illegal or may/may not have harmful effects on someone. It’s unfair that people who alter their mental abilities illegally, are going to end up doing better on finals….

    I have a hard time focusing too, but I’m not going to go out and take pills so I’ll force myself to study for hours and hours on end…. I think we as a society need to rethink our morals…..I mean, seriously….this is just like using steroids in a major league sport….I’m glad the university is taking a stance like this.

    If you’re not disciplined enough to make yourself study, then I question whether you even belong at a higher learning institution at all…..

  20. I would be so embarrassed if I were Amy Laskowski. Don’t cite a research article if you are just going to butcher the findings to draw an inaccurate conclusion.

  21. From a couple years ago:

    “Says Slate writer Joshua Foer, “it is supposed to be one of the easiest disorders to fake,” and he would know—as an experiment, Foer spent a week on Adderall, and reported he was so productive it was as though he had been “bitten by a radioactive spider.”

    Synthesized amphetamines have a long and storied history in the United States. Before there was Adderall, America had Obetrol, a prescription weight-loss pill whose heyday was in the 1950s and ’60s. And before that, there was Benzedrine, which is still given to Air Force pilots during long combat missions to keep them alert. Benzedrine was first synthesized in 1928, and shortly thereafter, it began amping up some very important cortexes. Jack Kerouac famously wrote On the Road on “bennies” and didn’t sleep for two weeks straight. Sylvia Plath, Graham Greene, Philip Dick, Paul Erdös, and many more: they produced mountains of work on large and often dangerous doses of Benzedrine.”


  22. As someone who has never taken Adderall, but who has a brother with a legitimate learning disability and does, I view Adderall as cheating on the same level as plagiarism or bringing answers into a test. Those who take it as a crunch are doing a disservice to those who legitimately work hard to study based on their own brain power, and to those who have legitimate reasons for taking it. What life skills do you learn when you fall back on a drug when shit gets tough?

  23. One of the many studies that have come out over the last five years. I’m aware. That’s why I get an EKG every time I have a doctor’s appointment now. The study suggests exercise and coffee as a substitute, which I find interesting, since caffeine is also addictive. Also, I’ve never experimented with PCP, however it’s hard to believe that my prescription medication will make me hallucinate and think I have the ability to lift cars. I agree with the “it’s basically like cheating” comment, since I get asked on a daily basis to sell my pills by procrastinating losers who I’ve never met. “How did you get this number?” I always ask, and they usually hang up after I threaten to notify the authorities.
    I now believe that I need it simply because I don’t remember every being without it. To roll with the article’s punches, my (hopefully) new job will give me more of a reason to continue with the prescription for concentration purposes. On a side note, I haven’t seen any articles on the Shake Weight, and that’s more disturbing than PCP and Adderall put together (kidding).

  24. I noticed one common theme among all responders that did not have ADD/ADHD. They do not care about those of us with the disorder. Some are arrogant about how they can use prescribed stimulants to become superhuman in the case that one of us retards dare challenge them in the home or in the workplace.

    The most worrisome responses were those advocating for as many barries as possible to these stimulants. It reminded me of labor unions for trades that can be learned in less than 6 months. They are constantly trying to get laws passed and obtain government money to pay them four to ten times more than their skills would be worth if there were no barriers. Like auto workers, public utility unions and others

    Both of these attitudes result from the same primal fear of competition. They are afraid that those of us with ADD/ADHD will rise up from our jobs serving them fast food, pumping their gas, cleaning their homes, taking out the trash in their office building, tidying up their hotel rooms, quickly making them a Mocha Latte half-caf and threaten to compete for the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed.

    What is most disturbing is that they are smart to be fearful. Those of us with ADD/ADHD using prescription medication have raised our standard of living. That is why MBA’s have found formed meetings to cry about not being able to afford their BMW’s because they can’t find a job in a down economy. Yet, there are still many help wanted signs outside of retail establishments for jobs paying less than 13/hr. There is more competition now from people with ADD who have managed to focus long enough to find their car keys and drive to work every day.

    Let me leave those of you without ADD/ADHD with this….We all hate who we are and will be miserable until the day we die whether or not we are medicated. Many of us will remain un-medicated and have to live with our parents until they die when we then be forced to the streets to become homeless, eventually left to die a violent death at the hands of other homeless people with different psychological disorders or from a variety of ailments caused by ADD/ADHD to focus, get help, and live a normal life.

    I am 40 years old, now. I make over 6-figures working in the IT industry. Eventually, I will say something or do something that I cannot help because of this disorder and be fired. I will slowly descend to the streets over 5 years as my money runs out and my inability to get a middle class job worsens. Don’t worry, during the final three years before I am homeless, I will do good work making your coffee or serving you your hamburgers from the drive-thru.

  25. I’ve lived a normal academic life up until my first year in Boston where i had difficulty getting work done and was eventually diagnosed with ADD. I take it every day I’m working, and don’t take it on weekends when I want to relax and helps stop any addiction apparently. Initially I was grinding my teeth a fair bit but I switched medication in consultation with my psych and the new one is better for me. I have regular weight and blood pressure checks as well to keep an eye on me. Does medication help? totally. Any medication taken without a doctors consultation is asking for trouble. The reason most medication is restricted is they want to check you know how to use it and it is suitable for you personally. Two different medications could interact in a bad way and no dealer in class is going to help you understand that. Would I sell my pills? No – because it’s too hard to get.

  26. I was somewhat concerned to note that in this string of messages there was no reference to the well-established and efficacious, non-invasive, non-toxic, non-pharmacological treatment for ADD/ADHD. Neurofeedback, or brain-based biofeedback, has been shown in double-blind randomized trials to permanently alleviate — and in many cases eliminate — the symptoms of this cognitive disorder. Neurofeedback trains only the specific areas of the brain that are under- (the ADD component) or over-stimulated (the ADHD component), rather than bathing the entire brain in a chemical bath that lasts only as long as the chemicals are in the system. Most who undergo neurofeedback training report no or few side effects. And it costs a LOT less than a lifetime of drugs.

    Please, check it out!


  27. Nice post. I learn something more challenging on different blogs everyday. It will always be stimulating to read content from other writers and practice a little something from their store. Id prefer to use some with the content on my blog whether you don?t mind. Natually Ill give you a link on your web blog. Thanks for sharing.

  28. I appreciate you taking the time to share with us your experience with Adderall.
    Like!! I blog quite often and I genuinely thank you for your information. The article has truly peaked my interest.

  29. I had always known that I was different to everyone else. But I wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD until I was 38.
    It hit me while I was investigating my son’s ADHD that I was told: ‘it is likely that you or your partner has the disorder’.
    I realised I identified with many of the ADHD traits. I also found out that genetics account for 70 to 80 percent of your individual risk, so if your son has ADD or ADHD but your male partner doesn’t, then the chances are you may be another woman who has it too.
    A friend of mine recommended this pharmacy their medications work great http://www.authenticmeds.com

  30. I had always known that I was different to everyone else. But I wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD until I was 38.
    It hit me while I was investigating my son’s ADHD that I was told: ‘it is likely that you or your partner has the disorder’.
    I realised I identified with many of the ADHD traits. I also found out that genetics account for 70 to 80 percent of your individual risk, so if your son has ADD or ADHD but your male partner doesn’t, then the chances are you may be another woman who has it too.
    A friend of mine recommended this pharmacy their medications work great http://www.authenticmeds.com

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