Facts About Adderall

  1. Adderall is a stimulant. 
  2. It is a drug that is prescribed to treat ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). 
  3. It helps individuals who have difficulty concentrating by improving their ability to focus, avoid distractions, and accomplish the task at hand.
  4. One out of every eight (approximately 12%) of college students report taking Adderall without a prescription as a way to improve their academic performance. 
  5. It is more prevalent around exam time when college students feel pressure, stress, and anxiety.
  6. Adderall is sometimes abused before going out partying because it is a stimulant that increases energy, alertness, and prevents you from getting tired.
  7. Some people abuse Adderall by swallowing the pill as intended.  Others crush it up and snort it.  While snorting the pill may cause you to feel the effects faster, it does not increase the overall intensity of the drug.  Snorting it will only cause additional harm to your nasal passages and your lungs.
  8. Adderall is habit forming. If you are consistently relying on Adderall to help you get through crunch time, you will eventually find that your brains natural ability to complete assignments and sustain pressure is diminished. 
  9. Adderall is considered a Schedule II Controlled Substance.  This means anyone caught in possession of the drug without a prescription will face criminal charges. 
  10. The crime of illegal possession of Adderall is the same as illegally possessing opiates or methamphetamines.

Risks and side effects of abusing Adderall

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Inability to sleep for extended periods of time
  • Dangerously high body temperature
  • Headache
  • Weight loss
  • Nervousness, shakiness, or uncontrollable tremors
  • Repeated use can lead to feelings of hostility and paranoia

Ways to improve focus without taking Adderall

People often try to justify their Adderall use.

“Everyone is using it!”

“It’s just to study.”

“It’s safe because it’s a pharmaceutical medicine.”

“People get it prescribed for learning disabilities.  It can’t be that bad.”

“You can control it. You don’t have to use it again if you don’t want to."

The truth is there are better, healthier, safer ways to focus.

Have a cup of coffee:

Caffeine can help you to feel more alert and give you that burst of energy that you sometimes need when you are feeling tired and run down from your school work.  Even if you are not typically a coffee drinker, sometimes having a cup of coffee will provide you with a couple more hours of concentration and help you stay alert.

Eat a peppermint:

You may have heard the old wives tale that peppermint makes you smarter.  Well, it doesn't.  What it really does is keep you alert, focused, and will cure any stomach issues that come from nerves.  Sucking on a candy will help you to stay alert because of the sugar content.  Eating a peppermint may help calm your anxiety, soothe your stomach, and help you concentrate on the task at hand.


Do a quick 15 minute workout before you sit down to study.  Exercise reduces stress and will make you feel better.  It also boosts energy because it increases levels of serotonin in your brain. 

Take a power nap:

Even if you do not think you have time for a nap, it might be worth it.  Sometimes you just need to give your body and your brain a rest.  Set an alarm, and go lay down for 15-30 minutes.  A short power nap can seriously increase your productivity.

Make a to-do list:

Take out a piece of paper and make an actual list of all the things that you need to do.  Sometimes just writing it down and being able to look at it helps you to prioritize, and physically see what needs to get done.  It is also rewarding to be able to check things off as you complete them.  It will make you realize what you have accomplished.

Use technology wisely:

We all know that having your computer open can be a major distraction especially when you are trying to concentrate. Don’t let this happen. There are tons of online tools that will let you temporarily block access to social media sites while you are in the middle of working on something important. You can also set up timers to track how long you have been working on something, and help you manage your time more effectively.

Is taking Adderall cheating?

You procrastinated and now you only have 8 hours until your assignment is due.  You are disorganized, and have not managed your time very well.  You feel like you are under pressure. The clock is ticking and you have too much to do in too little time.  You get distracted and cannot seem to focus in on getting your work done.  Does this sound familiar?  It is a situation that most college students will face at one time or another.

While Adderall has been prescribed by doctors for years as a way to help individuals diagnosed with ADHD, it is also becoming popular among college students as a way to help increase productivity, improve study habits, and get academic assignments done faster.  Students who are not prescribed the medication will take it on an as needed basis to help them finish schoolwork.  This raises the question:  Is taking Adderall on occasion cheating?

When teachers assign a project or tell you the next exam date, there is a set amount of time allotted for each student in the class to prepare.  Some students will get started right away.  They might do research, set up study groups or take notes to prepare.  Others delay, waiting until the last minute to even get started.  For the procrastinators, taking an Adderall might help you stay up all night, cramming an entire month’s worth of information into your head in 8 hours.  But is it really helping in the long run?  You are probably capable and smart, and you probably don’t need the Adderall.  What you need are better study habits, better time management, freedom from your distractions, and the motivation to want to succeed the old fashioned way---with hard work.

Adderall will not make you smarter, and it will not make you responsible.  It is nothing more than a quick fix to a bigger problem.  So yes, you are cheating.  You are cheating yourself.  Isn’t college supposed to be a chance for you to learn and receive an education?  Aren’t you supposed to be attaining new skills that you want to use in your future career?     Do you plan to use Adderall when you are faced with deadlines or pressure in your job someday? 

College is training for your life.  Learn how to study and manage your time so you can succeed.  Figure out how to balance work and fun so you can accomplish your goals.  It will feel a lot better, and it will certainly teach you a lot more, if you are able to do it on your own, without cheating and taking a pill.   


National Institute of Drug Abuse