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ADHD Drugs Abused Due to School Stress

By Sofie Maurer

The holiday season appears to be one of the most stressful in terms of workload. Whether turning in college applications or beginning the descent into finals week, students across all age spectrums are struggling to remain ahead of their growing list of responsibilities. As students drown in their coursework, an increasing number of them are relying heavily on the help of focus-fortifying drugs. Medication, such as Adderall, used to treat illnesses like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), are commonly used stimulants that work to improve focus and attention span. Though illegal, recreational use is still frequent among high school and college students. Berkeley High  School (BHS) appears to be no exception, as the phrase, “I’m going to sit down this weekend, take Adderall and write my entire EE,” seemingly echoes among Berkeley International High School (BIHS) classes. 

Both Adderall prescriptions and misuse among teens and young adults have been on the rise within the past decade. This, in addition to high rates of mental illness in young people, seems to hint at an overarching problem with stress management. One possible explanation for these alarming changes is an increasing amount of work and responsibility that is placed upon high school students. As college acceptance becomes more competitive, teens feel a strong pressure to not only take part in extracurriculars that provide them with a well-rounded admissions portfolio, but to earn perfect grades in school. These expectations are undeniably impossible to achieve, so it is unsurprising that students are turning to drugs in order to manage their many responsibilities . 

Another important aspect to consider when discussing these issues is the means by which students are getting these drugs. Between 1997 and 2016, the rate of ADHD diagnoses in children ages 4 to 17 increased by a staggering 4.2 percent. Of those children, approximately 62 percent were on some form of medication, Adderall being a popular choice. The overprescribing of this drug undoubtedly adds to the illegal distribution among students. While it is true quality of life. 

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