Performance Enhancing Drugs

      When you mention the term performance enhancing drugs, the usual association is with steroids and professional athletes.  But should our discussion shift to amphetamines and their prevalence in the classroom? 

       More and more college students are turning to medications like Adderall to help them study.  Students are looking for any edge they can get.  And many are finding that edge through powerful pharmaceuticals. 

       There are patients that take medications like Adderall or other amphetamines for the treatment of attention disorders.  But increasingly, some students also take these drugs for non-medical reasons. 

       We’ve created a culture where professional athletes aren’t the only ones looking to find an edge.  Students are under increased pressure to meet deadlines, attain certain grades, and compete with thousands of others for advancement. 

       With this pressure comes a need to find any way possible to gain an advantage.  And that is where Adderall comes in.  Students are increasingly taking medications like Adderall not to treat a diagnosed medical condition, but instead as a performance enhancer.

       But what’s the impact of a drug like Adderall on higher education?  Should colleges evaulate students differently because of a medication some use to maintain their grade point average?  Do students that take stimulants with no associated medical condition have an unfair advantage on the rest of the student body? 

       Our society is sending out a dangerous message to students- do whatever you need to do to get ahead.  Apparently, this includes taking prescription medications like Adderall for non-medical reasons. 

       We’ve become a prescription society.  Everyone wants a solution to their problems that involve taking a pill.  We’re so quick now to turn to pharmaceuticals to solve all of our problems that alternatives are almost immediately dismissed. 

       Adderall is a great drug for patients who actually need it to treat an associated medical condition.  But is it appropriate for college students simply looking for a way to get their degree? 

         I worry our drug culture tells students that it’s acceptable to consume these substances if it will give them the ability to succeed.  Professional athletes have set the bad example that if the stakes are high, any small edge is worth taking even if it is dangerous for your health. 

        I personally worry about the long-term effects of people that get into the habit of taking a drug like Adderall just to function in the classroom.  What will using Adderall for extended periods of time do to your brain’s delicate chemical balance?

        Everyone wants to get ahead in this world and compete for success and the associated spoils of winning.  But is winning in the game of life worth doing so at all cost?  Is it worth it to get that degree if it took a powerful stimulant to get you across the finish line? 

        We’re more likely to discuss the issue of performance enhancing drugs in the context of professional sports rather than higher education.  Perhaps it is time to shift the discuss to where it is becoming a bigger and bigger problem?  Perhaps it is time to talk about performance enhancing drugs in our classrooms?  

The Redheaded Pharmacist

1 Comment to “Performance Enhancing Drugs”

  1. By Pharmaciststeve, December 4, 2012 @ 10:56 pm

    I thought the drug of choice .. at least outside of the academic setting is Provigil/Nuvigil…


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