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NBC Video: College Students’ Widespread Abuse of Adderall

By Dirk Hanson 05/18/11

“When I’m on Adderall and I’m looking at the textbook I can forget about everything else around me,” one student told the Today Show.

Parents who warn their children about the dangers of cocaine and heavy drinking when they send their youngsters off to college may be disgusted to discover that the drug of choice on campus these days is perfectly legal--if you happen to have a prescription. Otherwise, it’s all in the hands of local dealers. “When I’m on Adderall and I’m looking at the textbook I can forget about everything else around me,” one student told Linda Carroll of the NBC Today Show.

“For all intents and purposes, Adderall is speed,” said Stephen Odom, a drug abuse counselor at Sober Living by the Sea. “You’re putting something in your body that’s gonna make you think you’re OK when you’re not. And the next thing you know, you’re gonna be spinning out of control.” Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), points out that the common study practice can become counterproductive: “In some instances these types of drugs can hurt you,” she told NBC. “For example, when people want to do creative or imaginative things.” Volkow said stimulant drugs like meth and adderall can inhibit certain parts of the brain, making it more difficult to write or express yourself creatively.

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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]

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