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David Mittleman
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High School Students Abuse Adderall to Make the Grade

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Teenagers today seem to have more pressure to excel in every way. From having the "perfect" body to getting the best grades and getting into an ivy league college, teenagers seem to have more on their mind than dates and extracurricular clubs for fun. Who knows why–maybe it's reality TV, maybe it's more competition in general to get into good colleges after graduation–but whatever the reason, it's having a devastating effect on some teens who have turned to dangerous sources for their motivation to keep striving.

More teenagers report abusing prescription drugs to get through their long days of studying; in particular, they use drugs meant to control ADHD symptoms such as Adderall to keep their attention span extra sharp. Once popular among college students, prescription amphetamines like Adderall are making their way into high schools across the country to help students stay focused through marathon-like tests such as the SAT, the ticket into a good college. Parents, school officials and students at one upscale school in NYC agreed to speak to the NYT about their or their teenagers' experiences using prescription drugs to stay focused to make the grade. One dealer of Adderall shared his triumph in obtaining the drug by lying to his psychiatrist about his "symptoms"–ones consistent with ADHD while another student spoke of his ability to study all night with his friends while on the drug.

The DEA classifies drugs like Adderall as class 2 controlled substances, which is the same as cocaine and morphine because they are as addictive. While Adderall calms those with ADHD, it can provide a jolt to unaffected individuals that allows them to stay up all night and stay awake for exams the next day. But abuse of prescription drugs can lead to depression, sleep deprivation, mood irregularities, psychosis, exhaustion, and withdrawal. Long term, teenagers may also become dependent on sleeping pills or painkillers to counteract their symptoms from Adderall. While some students intend to only take the drug for a short period of time to get through an important exam or other scholastic event, a short-term plan can lead to lifelong consequences.