I’m going to take this opportunity to address the issue of study drugs in general—meaning Adderall and Ritalin. The subject is an interesting one given the boom of study drug use, especially on campuses reputed for their competitive nature (i.e. McGill). A recent study from the University of Maryland found that study drugs are now the third most popular (and available) drugs on campus, behind only alcohol and marijuana. Let’s be clear on one thing though: Any and all prescription drugs have risks, especially when they are self-medicated. Doctors prescribe these drugs for specific conditions such as narcolepsy and ADHD but only after a administering a comprehensive medical examination.
When it comes to their risks, the first thing to note is that Adderall is an amphetamine and Ritalin has amphetamine and cocaine-like properties. It follows that both have high potentials for abuse. They are also stimulants and therefore increase your heart rate, blood pressure and the work your heart has to do. It follows that they may not be good for you if you have or your family has a history of cardiac problems. As for the other organs, study drugs can have a variety of effects, all of which can lead to serious complications. These drugs also have nasty interactions with anti-depressants, particularly MAOIs.
On a non-medical note, the fact that these drugs help you focus might not always be to your advantage. People have been known to spend hours cleaning their rooms the night before a final or, as one student reports, playing Mario Party from sunset to sunrise. People also find that study drugs stifle creativity which is a major factor to consider given that creative juices are definitely required to finish (or start) that twenty page paper due tomorrow morning.