On campuses across the country, students looking for a way to cram for exams or write papers have increasingly turned to taking ADHD drugs in order to increase their productivity in the shortest time possible.
While taking drugs in college is nothing new, the rise in the last 10 years of students using ADHD drugs like Adderall and Ritalin without being diagnosed with the condition has given campuses cause for concern.
"Our biggest concern...is the increase we have observed in this behavior over the past decade," said Sean McCabe, research associate professor at the University of Michigan Substance Abuse Research Center.
According to a 2009 study by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, full-time college students were twice as likely to take such substances without a prescription than students who went to school part time. "When we look at upperclassmen, the number really begins to jump," said Alan DeSantis, a professor at the University of Kentucky. "The more time you stay on campus, the more likely you are to use."
Students believe that taking stimulant drugs like Adderall or Ritalin helps them become more productive, a problem that grows worse due to the increasingly competitive atmospheres of college. The drugs "strengthen the brain's brakes, its inhibitory capacities, so it can control its power more effectively," said Dr. Edward Hallowell, a psychiatrist and ADHD expert. "They do this by increasing the amount of certain neurotransmitters, like dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine."
But the potential harms that using ADHD stimulants can cause when taken non-medically have been vastly overlooked by students. "College students tend to underestimate the potential harms associated with the non-medical use of prescription stimulants," McCabe said.
Not only do they underestimate the harms, but many times they don’t even think about them. "The fact that it's illegal really doesn't cross my mind," one university student said. "It's not something that I get nervous about because it's so widespread and simple."
"I just feel very alive and awake and ready for challenges that come my way," another student said after taking Adderall. "I'm very confident in it."
Columbus Short could really use Olivia Pope to fix this mess.
According to divorce papers and a restraining order filed by Tuere Tanee McCall, Short allegedly threatened to kill his wife then himself after drunkenly accusing her of having affairs.
On April 7, an intoxicated Short reportedly approached McCall in her room, where he grabbed her phone from her hands and began hurling abusive comments. McCall claimed that Short lunged at her several times and "acted as if he was about to hit me with the [wine] bottle." The court documents also stated that he poured wine on the sofa, pinned her down, and held the knife to her throat before continuing to "berate her abusively" and aggressively question her about the affairs.
"He placed the knife close to my neck and threatened to kill me and then kill himself," McCall said according to the court documents. McCall was able to get away from Short, but was only able to go so far since the tires on her car were slashed. McCall is seeking sole custody of their two-year-old daughter.
Short has been in trouble with the law for violence before. Back in February, he was arrested for an altercation with McCall in front of their children. He pled not guilty to spousal battery. The following month, he was arrested again, this time for his involvement in a Los Angeles bar fight that left a man hospitalized. In 2010, he was alleged to have broken another man’s jaw while playing pick-up basketball.
Gary Tovar, founder of Goldenvoice Productions, which puts on the popular Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, has claimed in a wide-ranging interview with The Guardian that he was once California’s biggest marijuana smuggler.
"When I was doing both my things – smuggling and concerts – I considered them crusades," Tovar said. "Now I think we won on both ends. Our music won - you can hear a Ramones song in an elevator - and we won on the marijuana front."
Tovar began smuggling illicit goods when he was 14 years old, transporting fireworks from Tijuana, Mexico into California. He graduated to pot sometime in the late 1960s by distributing seeds he obtained from LaRue, a guru in Timothy Leary’s Brotherhood of Eternal Love, who himself smuggled hashish from East Asia.
Throughout the 1980s, Tovar used the money he made from smuggling to finance an array of punk bands, including GBH, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and The Damned. But eventually, the feds caught up with Tovar in March 1991 when agents arrested him in Los Angeles.
"It was Ronald Reagan's 'Just Say No' era. There was hysteria,” he said. “They were telling schoolchildren to tell on their parents. It was a total waste of time and money, and a waste of people's lives." Tovar successfully fought off conspiracy charges, but wound up imprisoned for seven years in October 1992 on four counts of drug trafficking in Arizona.
Now legit, Tovar saw his Goldenvoice business partner, Paul Tollett, launch Coachella in 1999 and has claimed something of a victory with the recent push for marijuana legalization across the country.
“You could say I feel gratified," he said.
Last season, when Edie Falco's Nurse Jackie relapsed on the first anniversary of her sobriety, it broke the hearts of many fans of the show. In the wrong hands, a turn like this could be the worst kind of melodrama. But by the same token, if things stayed fine for the character, it could have been deemed a big cop out.
As Falco recently told The Daily Beast, “Very rarely do people get sober and then it’s clear sailing from that point on. I think the rule, rather than the anomaly, is that people tend to struggle.”
Falco, who has been sober from alcohol for over twenty years herself, was also hurt about her character’s relapse. “I don’t know if it was a dramatic decision, or if just was an effort to keep things realistic. I kind of stay away from storyline stuff," she said. "But as far as when we’re dealing with addiction stuff, it’s very important to me to be depicted as realistically as possible."
Showrunner Clyde Phillips confirmed that the decision to take such a bold dramatic step was a desire to keep it real. “There needs to consequences; you can’t just do it as a one-time thing and say to the audience, ‘Hey, come back and watch year six and she’s on the wagon again'", he said. "I don’t think that’s fair to the dynamic of authentic story telling. Her struggles will be even deeper [this year].”
The show has already been renewed for its seventh season, with Falco promising that “[i]t's only going to get more complicated.” But considering the character’s relapse, that’s a given, especially considering she’s dealing with her daughter’s struggles with addiction as well.
"Many kids see this in their families growing up and one thing they promise is that they’ll never be like that," Falco said. "And lo and behold, so many of them end up being just like that. Because it’s what they see and what they know. It’s a really complicated issue, but it’s not unusual that it picks up exactly where the parent left off, or still is.”
In the midst of a severe food shortage and the never-ending standoff with South Korea, North Korea is reportedly turning to drug smuggling as a means of filling government coffers.
This is hardly a new phenomenon for the Hermit Nation. A new report from the Washington-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, “Illicit: North Korea’s Evolving Operations to Earn Hard Currency,” claims that the country has been engaged in smuggling since the 1970s. Government officials during that time were directly responsible for trafficking drugs and counterfeit cigarettes, but turns out that top leaders in North Korea have also recently had a hand in drug trafficking. In 2004, for example, several high-ranking officials were caught smuggling 150,000 sedative pills into Egypt.
These days, much of the drug trade in North Korea is done via underground markets, as locals desperate for food and money use the country’s heavy international trade restrictions to their advantage. But because access to healthcare is scarce, many natives will also use these potent substances as a cure for various ailments.
This has also led to a reported epidemic of drug addiction throughout the country. A study published in North Korea Review estimated that “at least 40 to 50 percent [of residents] are severely addicted [to crystal meth]," while also indicating that the government itself was directly responsible for some of the meth production. The website DailyNK has also reported that North Koreans are now getting hooked on Amidon, a painkiller known in the west as methadone. A source told the publication that it’s used as a relief from “fatigue” due to “undergoing forced labor” and “secretly given as a gift on holidays.”
With the oil boom in the Bakken Shale fields of Western North Dakota bringing in huge money to small communities, local police are now struggling to control a rapidly expanding drug trade.
In Watford City, police calls for service have multiplied by 100 in the last five years, while several reports have indicated heroin being trafficked on isolated Indian reservations. Federal prosecutions in the Western half of North Dakota have also tripled in recent years, from 126 in 2009 to 336 last year. Recognizing the growing problems, the feds are now desperately trying to increase and strengthen local police and drug task forces.
"We're battling our butts off to stay ahead of this,” said U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon. "Our concern is that this is an open market and as people start to compete, the violence will increase...There's nothing less at stake here than our way of life."
North Dakota battled a homegrown meth epidemic several years ago, but these days the meth is coming in from Mexico. It’s also being sold in greater quantities at higher costs. Meth seizures in Ward County, roughly two hours away from the oil fields, jumped from $63,200 in 2012 to $404,600 last year. A gram of meth that might cost $120 in big cities will cost $200 in more rural areas. Heroin has also been introduced into the drug trade around the oil fields, while Bismarck ATF agent Derek Hill noted that “we’re seeing a lot more armed drug traffickers.”
Local courts are also noticing that many of the people being arrested for drug-related crimes aren’t from North Dakota. The Bakken Formation extends into nearby Montana, where two members of the Sinaloa Cartel were found and arrested. And with oil expected to flow in the Bakken for at least another generation, many local officials have expressed concern that the drug trade will dominate their communities.
"I pretty much knew most of the defendants [before]. I knew their parents, their kids, their grandparents, their next-door neighbors. Now I can go weeks and see people I've never seen before,” said Judge David Nelson. “It's amazing how many people are arrested within days of getting here."