Adderall: A Growing Trend Among College Students
Brian,* a 20-year-old Northeastern University student, carefully lays out his “stash” of blue pills on a table one Sunday evening. As he organizes them into groups according to size and dosage, he mentally runs through his class work and assignments for the week.
“A physics quiz on Tuesday,” he says, eyes still fixed on the dozen or so blue pills on the table. “A calc test on Friday and a lab due on Thursday.”
Brian sinks back into his chair with a sigh of defeated enthusiasm. A weekend full of late night socialization and early afternoon wake up calls has finally given way to the harsh realization of an intense week of school work. As Brian prepares for Monday morning to rear its ugly head, he is comforted by the sight of those tiny blue pills laid out delicately on his table. This, he explains, will sustain him through the hellacious school week ahead of him, and provide him with the motivation and concentration he needs to get his work done.
“I’d be much more stressed out if I didn’t have these,” he says. “It’ll make the week go by a little easier. That’s not to say it won’t be brutal though.”
Those tiny blue pills laid out on Brian’s table are the prescription drug Adderall. Manufactured by the British based pharmaceutical company Shire, Inc., Adderall has become the leading medication prescribed for those diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The National Institute of Mental Health describes ADHD as, “one of the most common of the psychiatric disorders that appear in childhood in which an individual can’t stay focused on a task, can’t sit still, acts without thinking, and rarely finishes anything”. If left untreated, the effects of ADHD are believed, “have long-term effects on a child’s ability to make friends or do well at school or work, possibly developing into severe depression, poor self-esteem, and other emotional problems”. Research has indicated that 3-5% of the general population is afflicted with ADHD, with at least one diagnosis in every classroom in America.
Adderall has emerged as the leading prescription medication to treat ADHD. Approved by the FDA in 1996, Adderall prescriptions have grown in leaps and bounds, overtaking the once popular medication Ritalin as the leader in treating ADHD. The number of prescriptions given for the drug has skyrocketed in recent years, going from 200,000 in 2001, to 4.3 million in 2002, to 6.4 million in 2003. The profit margins for Shire have reflected such growth. According to manufacturers, Adderall brought in sales of $475.5 million in 2003, a 49% increase from its 2002 earning and a number that looks to continue to rise. The success of Adderall motivated Shire to extend their patent on its production until the year 2018. It also produced the birth of a new, more improved form of Adderall. Adderall XR has the same desired effects of its early counterpart, but is unique in that it contains two types...