College Study Tips: 5 Safe and Awesome Alternatives to Adderall

Who knew that there would eventually be a day in which parents, teachers, and other sectors of the population would have to worry about a drug pertaining to studying? Recreational drugs have always been an issue among adolescents, sure, but the rise in the usage of Adderall, an amphetamine prescribed to individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), has seriously affected the ways in which college students tackle their studies. Adderall calms those with ADHD while providing energy and focus to those without the disorder to pull all nighters and essentially do assigned work for the student.

I’ve seen it firsthand, how an individual can sit for 12 hours in the same spot without a break and bang out the work they need to get done. To get a better picture of what students on Adderall are experiencing, picture a horse in Central Park with blinders on the peripherals so that they only see what is directly in front of them; students have the ability to ignore any distractions and focus on the immediate work in front of them.

The demand for Adderall amongst college students has become a business during finals week, as every other student is searching adamantly for someone who deals the study aid. Those dealers are more often than not those with a professional diagnosis of ADHD who actually need the drug. Admittedly, I attend a university with a decently competitive atmosphere. As we approach the last weeks of the semester, I can confidently say that students will begin texting their suppliers to solidify their four of five pills for the reading days leading up to finals week. I can name an unfortunate amount of times where a peer would complain about their heavy academic workload, but still go out partying with the rationale that “I’m not worried, I bought Adderall last week.”

By the same token, I can name an unfortunate amount of individuals sans ADHD who took Adderall to the extent that they cannot complete homework and studying without popping an “Addy.” What is startling is the fact that those who intake the drug are quote unquote “good kids” who generally received As and Bs throughout their academic career.

The long-term consequences of this dependency are beyond frightening. If you’re looking to avoid what might be considered “cheating” on studying and subsequent tests as well as saving your money (a single pill can be sold for as much as $5; for broke college students this is a lot in the grand scheme of things), your health and your brain, here are five alternatives to rely on instead of Adderall during finals week.

1. Caffeine is your friend

Upon entering college, you realize the beautiful nature of caffeine. This comes in the form primarily of coffee, Red Bull, Five Hour Energy, and the like. Coffee, perhaps the most widely consumed form of caffeine, does the following: It wakes you up before classes, allows you to stay fresh when in the library all day, and keeps you up when you are in the stacks into the dark hours of the night/subsequent morning. The Starbucks next to the library on my campus is open 24/7, so there really is no excuse not to have coffee help you get your work done rather than resorting to Adderall. Not only is  caffeine cheaper, but it is arguably safer.  

2. Don’t wait until the last minute

Here’s a bright idea, get your work done when you should! Manage your time, you’re no longer allowed to mess around like you did in high school. College is the era that prepares you for the rest of your life, so get your stuff together. If you need more incentive, endless studies show that cramming doesn’t help your learning in the long run. Moreover, if you get your work done in an effectively timely manner, there will simply be no need to turn to Adderall.

3. Skip the party, there will be others

If you attend a four year institution, you have 8 semesters at your given college lasting an average of 15 weeks. In college, the weekend roughly includes three nights (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) with multiple parties/events each night. Let’s be modest and say each weekend night, a student has three solid social options. That is nine per weekend, meaning 135 events for a given semester. My point: you can give up a fraction of that number to not resort to Adderall and still do well in school.

4. Mental breaks are also your friend

It’s never effective to sit in one place for endless hours and try to get everything done (unless you’re on Adderall but for the purpose of this article we are not allowing this to be an option). A mental break might include a coffee break, a trip to the gym, getting fruit or other brain foods, and even a power nap. These breaks will allow you to recharge and refocus without using artificial methods (i.e., Adderall) to accomplish your tasks.

5. Download a "self control" application

I don’t care who you are or what you say, if you are a Facebook user there is absolutely no doubt you are distracted by Facebook at least five times a day. This is particularly true when you are doing your homework, writing a paper, doing research, and so forth. Thankfully, there is the ability to download a “self control” application for your laptop, where Facebook and other “black list” sites you apply are forbidden to visit. If you attempt to type in Facebook’s web address, it will automatically bring you to a page that says you are not connected to the Internet. There is a timer on the app, and depending on your workload, you can set it for as long as you please. Furthermore, it’s free. Do it, it’s great.  

As you can see, students have the ability to resort to safer, cheaper and more fair measures than Adderall with regard to studying. The outlook of the alleviation of Adderall usage among students who are not prescribed it is vague, but following these suggestions and recommend that your user friends do the same will certainly contribute.