Adderall Shortage Hits America's Youth Hard ... Wait, What Are We Talking About?

The Great Recession, Occupy Wall Street, and the euro zone crisis combined do not hold a candle to the soul-crushing problem that has brought America’s youth to their knees: We’re running out of Adderall.

Recently, the FDA added the drugs Ritalin and Adderall to an expanding list of national drug shortages. According to the FDA’s website, the shortage is due to “API supply issues and uneven product distribution patterns.”

In the United States, 5.4 million children are diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and of those, 66% take medication like Adderall to control the condition. On college campuses nationwide, a surprising number of students are using the drug recreationally to help boost their grades. Adderall increases productivity and focus in an otherwise over-stimulated student body. While it may at first be perceived as a national problem among students, I think that it is a harmless pill to aid in the under-motivated college experience.

[Read more on Adderall addictions: "Adderall Abuse Should Be Treated, Not Punished"] 

Students will surely be up in arms, as their magic bullet becomes harder and harder to get a hold of. Often called an “academic steroid,” Adderall is known amongst academics as a cognitive enhancer; it is a drug that enables “high-functioning, overcommitted people to become higher-functioning and more overcommitted.” In a survey of nearly 2,000 students at a Midwestern university, researchers found that over 34% of undergraduates had taken some form of nueroenhancer without a prescription.

The drug is also the procrastinator’s go-to, according to The New Yorker's Margaret Talbot. Talbot reported on a study which found that the majority of collegiate users were white male undergraduates at highly competitive schools — especially in the Northeast — who are inclined to belong to a fraternity or a sorority and to have a GPA of 3.0 or lower. That same study found that the nueroenhancer users were also 10 times more likely to have smoked marijuana in the past year and 20 times more likely to have used cocaine.

Likened to the use of steroids in professional sports, the use of “performance-enhancing drugs” calls into question the issues of competitiveness and fairness. In professional sports, rules have been put into place to protect the integrity of the game, and ensure a proverbial level playing field. To that end, one might wonder, why are the same rules not enacted at our universities? Does Adderall offer an unfair advantage over those whose grades are based solely on their work ethic, or is it a harmless pill, that provides the same advantages as a cup of espresso or a red bull?

While it is hard to imagine how any university could enforce such a rule, it is an ethical dilemma nonetheless. The dialogue between the rival groups will result in neither side yielding to an agreement. To the chagrin of the so-called "straight-edge" students, many will ultimately resort to taking the drug to finish that 12-page term paper, study for that impossible calculus midterm, or even, ahem, to meet that deadline.

While Adderall may give the casual user an initial jump start, it is still on the student’s shoulders to write that essay, read that painstakingly-dull Russian novel, or study for that exam. If there are no qualms with taking credit for the work done during a caffeine-binge or nicotine-induced haze, one should be able to take the same credit for work done while under the influence of Adderall.

The irreconcilable truth is that if the drug is readily available, and many will take it for the competitive edge. As for the shortage, so long as there is a want, co-eds everywhere will eventually find a way to get it. 

To all you pill pushers surreptitiously lurking in corridors of the library, waiting for that jittery co-ed in need of a quick fix, a bit of advice: Raise your prices ... demand is about to skyrocket.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Deanna Gillen

Deanna graduated from Marist College in 2010 with a double major in Political Science and Journalism. Her political experiences include working in the New York State Senate, covering the 2009 New York City Mayoral Campaign while interning at NBC, and wrote her undergraduate thesis on Freedom of the Press. She is an aspiring journalist, enjoys wet cappuccinos and dry humor, and blogs in her spare time.

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