Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Adderall

 

Ella Moss <ella.moss@bembo.org> shared her study this July 10, 2014

In the United States, a Schedule II drug is one that has some accepted medical use, but at the same time a high potential for abuse that may lead to severe psychological and physical dependence.

Cocaine, morphine and methadone are all Schedule II substances.

Imagine opening Twitter one morning to be greeted by tweets from across the nation by young people that quite plainly, without redaction or self-censorship, are speaking about their use of a specific Schedule II substance.

More than that–they are openly joking about this drug, applying hashtags to it, posting photos of them eating and snorting it, and attempting to buy and sell it to anyone who’s interested.

All apparently with no fear whatsoever of being noticed by law enforcement, let alone their friends and family, and despite the illegitimate possession and use of the substance being a felony that is punishable by jail time.

This is precisely what’s happening as I type this sentence, because right now college students across the country are taking their final exams and some of them (an estimated 6.5 million, in fact) are using mixed amphetamine salts to increase their chances of acing the tests.

Sounds pretty serious, right? But when you refer to the amphetamine in question by its brand name, which is Adderall, something interesting happens. People relax back in their seats a bit. Their concern lessens. And if they are college students, their mood might shift even more dramatically. The opening paragraph of this article might suddenly sound like the shrill objections of an over-reacting fuddy-duddy parent or politician.

someone who doesn’t understand that Adderall fits into the modern college student’s diet right alongside a can of Red Bull or a strong cup of coffee--just one of the many options available to boost focus and concentration.

But energy drinks and espressos didn’t send 23,000 young adults to the emergency room in 2011 (a four-fold increase since 2005). Nor do they possess the incredible potential for abuse and addiction that Adderall does.

So is this drug, which shares a classification with cocaine but is simultaneously inspiring memes, hashtags and inside jokes on every social network, a bad guy or a good guy?

I’ve been on a journey around the social web to find out. I’ve eavesdropped on college students’ conversations about Adderall wherever they’re occuring, from the mirky shadows of the “dark web,” where illicit drugs are bought and sold with a crypto-currency, to the comparitively fresh air of reddit and Twitter, where Instragrammed Adderall photos and screenshots of phone conversations are posted as if they’re not about the illegal procurement and use of a mind-altering amphetamine.

Let’s get started

Introduction to Adderall

The chances are, especially if you read the news or have attended a college in the last five years, you already know a bit about Adderall. You probably know that it’s a pharmaceutical stimulant amphetamine used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy and sometimes severe depression. You’re also no doubt aware of its main effects: It increases a person’s energy, alertness, motivation and focus, especially for tasks that would ordinarily strain these faculties. You might also have heard about its less desirable side effects, like decreased appetite, heart palpitations and extreme anxiety. So instead of telling you more stuff you might already know or could read elsewhere, I’ll just give you the CliffsNotes–just the most useful facts about Adderall that are worth knowing before we delve into the things college students are saying about it.

Adderall affects people very differently, depending on whether or not they have a legitimate medical need for it.

There’s more of it than ever.

Two types, taken in lots of ways.

The main thing to bear in mind about Adderall, and this should become hugely apparent as this article progresses, is that young people who take it absolutely notice its effects, often to the point of attributing their chances of academic success directly to whether or not they take it while they study.

To millions of students, it’s the lifeline that will keep them diligently tied to the task at hand, whether it’s reading hundreds of pages of dry information, or taking copious notes on a complex subjects.

But at the same time, Adderall is, with no ifs, ands or buts, a hard drug–an extremely strong stimulant–and like all types of amphetamines, a person can build up a tolerance to it as time goes by.

His or her brain will be drowning in dopamine on a regular basis (Adderall blocks the normal absorption of this neurotransmitter, which results in the intense feeling of euphoria and peaked concentration people get from the drug).

Take too much Adderall, for too long, and you might end up physically dependent on it just to feel normal, as well as depressed, hostile, jittery and paranoid.

And yet the popularity of Adderall continues to soar. We’ve already seen the first sign of this in the ever-increasing amount of amphetamine that is manufactured each year. But let’s go deeper.

What evidence is there to suggest that the cult of Adderall is stronger than ever, both in popular culture and across social networks?

Search activity

If you want to know how interested young people are in Adderall, the logical place to begin is where they go to find out what it is, where they can get it, how they should take it and what the likely side effects will be.

That’s Google, in case you hadn’t guessed. The image above shows search activity for the query ‘Adderall’ over the last 5 years. It doesn’t take a graph scientist to deduce that it’s been receiving more and more interest year-on- year since 2005.

When you refine the search query to “Adderall studying,” the graph becomes even more interesting: Nothing before 2009, then a steady increase every year after that until the present time. You’ll notice though that the line doesn’t curve up smoothly as time goes on–it has jagged peaks and valleys. Here’s why.

Here’s another graph to show that more clearly. Notice how interest in “Adderall studying” is at its peak in May and December (midterms and fall finals), but totally flat-lines in the summer when college students aren’t cramming for their exams.

This is a finding that has been corroborated by chemists from the University of Puget Sound. They tested college campus waste water for traces of amphetamines and Ritalin metabolites at different points in the academic calendar.

They found that during times of relatively low stress, only a few percent of students were taking an amphetamine (probably for medical reasons). During exam periods, however, amphetamine use rose by a factor of 8, with an estimated 25% of students using Vyvanse or Adderall.

So, students most want to artificially enhance their focus and concentration during exam periods. This makes sense. But once they’ve Googled “Adderall studying” and decided they need it in their life, how are they going to get it? It turns out there are three main ways. Let’s start with the shadiest.

Drugs on the Deep Web

Let’s imagine I have an exam in four days’ time and I’m convinced that without Adderall in my system, there’s no chance I’ll be able to absorb all the information required to pass it.

Where can I get some without robbing a pharmacy or mugging a kid with ADHD? It turns out I can have it in my possession within three days without leaving the comfort of my computer chair.

I just need to log on to an anonymous drug marketplace like the Silk Road and add it to my shopping basket. Just like this:

In case you haven’t heard of the Silk Road, allow me to briefly summarize it. It is part of the internet that is not indexed by search engines (often called the “dark web”).

The dark web is a murky, strange place where- -if you’re so inclined–you can buy and sell any number of illegal things, including but not limited to guns, child pornography, fake IDs, cloned credit cards and drugs.

You can even swap bundles of raw cash for Bitcoins, which make up the crypto-currency dark web marketplaces like the Silk Road use to transact goods in an anonymous, difficult-to-trace manner.

The first version of the Silk Road was shut down by the FBI in October 2013, only to be replaced by the apparently more impervious second iteration barely a month later. I logged onto version 2.0 using the Tor browser and a VPN and within two minutes I had the above items in my shopping basket: both instant and extended release Adderall tablets and capsules for an average price of about $10 a piece.

It almost seemed too easy. Then again, the whole process was expedited by drug dealers who seem to go to every length to communicate the merits of their products. Case in point:

I originally located the “onion” address of the Silk Road through its discussion forum on the social news and entertainment site reddit.com. And it was by complete accident that, after screen-shotting the above and closing down my Tor browser, I returned to Chrome to close down the tab containing the Silk Road sub-reddit and noticed this post:

Astrohaven’s pills were among those I experimentally added to my Silk Road shopping basket.

I headed back to the Silk Road to check out its drug discussion forum. Lo and behold, the story was the same, but here I found more specific information on the matter.

It turns out that getting one’s hands on Adderall through the deep web might not be all plain sailing. It was while reading through the Silk Road’s forum that I noticed talk of the second method someone might use to acquire Adderall, which actually has nothing to do with the deep web.

Here a Silk Road user sums it up quite colorfully:

And several redditors back in the Silk Road subreddit echoed the above sentiment with their own thoughts:


This is a huge part of the Adderall debate: The ease with which a young person, especially a student, can secure a legitimate prescription for the drug merely by telling a doctor they need it, and then use and abuse it in whatever way they see fit.

And once they have the pills in their possession, they can do something other than eat and snort them. They can sell them to other students who can’t get their own Adderall, perhaps because they’re uninsured or have already blown through their personal supplies.

An uninsured student might pay $6 to $8 a pill at retail price, but buying them ten at a time from a student who does have insurance (or is still on their parents’), can drop the price to $3 to $5 a pill.

With a military or insurance discount, a college student can buy Adderall XR for under $1 a pill, wander into the library during finals and sell it to any number of stressed out students for three to five times more.

The result is college campuses that are scattered with millions of Adderall capsules and tablets. And I mean literally scattered. Forget the Dark Web. Just head to a college library or classroom at the end of a semester and have a general look around.
Those photos were posted on Twitter, which is my next calling point, and boy, it’s a doozy.

Adderall on Twitter

Twitter is fairly well known as being a place where people say anything and eveything that’s on their minds. It stands to reason then that during finals, some college students will tweet about Adderall. I expected this before I turned my attention to it as a source of information on the topic.

What I didn’t expect was the sheer volume of Adderall-related tweets that are flooding the microblogging site right now (mid-December 2013). Moreover, I had no idea so many students would be as open and blasé about their use of it as they are.

I began by scraping the most recent 10,000 tweets containing the word “Adderall.” It turns out it had only taken five days for these to amass. To the left you can see the profile photos of about 20% of the people who made the 10,000 tweets, along with a few facts about the messages they sent out.

I’ve estimated the gender breakdown of the group by randomly sampling 500 tweeters from the 10,000 and handcoding their genders based on their profile photos. According to this method, 57% of the 10,000 most recent Adderall tweets were made by females.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that females use Adderall more than males, however. Perhaps they just tweet about it more. Plus, there are more young women on Twitter than young men (60/40 in favor of females). So it seems gender doesn’t have much to do with it.

The most frequently used words in the 10,000 tweets (aside from “Adderall”) are more interesting though. “Finals” appeared the most, aside from everyday words, and was included in just over 9% of the tweets. The second most used, “haters,” is an interesting one because it comes from one particular phrase that has been retweeted hundreds and hundreds of times in the last week or so. It’s this:

As you can see, the tweet originated from @AdderallHadMe, which is a novelty account dedicated soley to tweeting different versions of the “Adderall had me…” phrase.

140,000 people follow the account and, based on a 30-second scroll through them, they appear to be exclusively young, college-age men and women. It’s an odd account and its popularity surprises me. I can’t imagine @CocaineHadMe garnering such a following. It’s not the only one of its kind, either. There’s also @AdderallCliches, which also has 140,000 of the same sort of followers. Oh, and @Adderall_XR, with 55,000.

By refining my search to include only tweets containing the word “Adderall” and “Buy” or “Sell,” I was able to get a more interesting insight into how much the drug is at the forefront of students’ minds right now–at least, the ones on Twitter who are publicly tweeting about it.

 

How you look on different drugs: Artist Self-Portraits

In what could be considered the craziest/most creative drug experiment ever, artist Bryan Lewis Saunders pushed himself to the limit when he decided to take a different drug every day for a few weeks.

Not only was he not sober, but he also drew a self-portrait of himself while under the influence of these drugs each day.

  posted this 

Artist Creates Self-Portraits On Different Drugs, And The Results Are Insane (Photos)

After all, there’s no doubt that this takes a toll on your body. From nicotine gum, to cocaine, to Zoloft, to PCP, Saunders did it all.

Nicotine gum

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-0

Klonopin

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-1

Dilaudid

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-2

Risperdal

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-3

Abilify

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-4

Trazodone

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-5

Hydrocodone/Oxycodone/Xanax

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-6

Abilify/ Xanax/Ativan

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-7

Absinthe

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-8

Adderall

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Ambien

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Ativan/Haloperidol

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-11

Buspar

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-12

Butalbitals

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-13

Butane Honey Oil

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-14

Cephalexin

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-15

Cocaine

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-16

Computer duster

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-17

Cough syrup

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-18

Crystal Meth

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-19

Dilaudid/Morphine

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-20

Morphine IV

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-21

G13 Marijuana

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-22

Geodon

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-23

Hash

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-24

Huffing gas

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-25

Marijuana

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-26

Huffing lighter fluid

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-27

Loritab

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-28

Nitrous Oxide/Valium

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-29

Psilocybin mushrooms

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-30

Nitrous Oxide

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-31

PCP

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-32

Percocet

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Pruno

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-34

Marijuana resin

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-35

Ritalin

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-36

Salvia Divinorum

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-37

Seroquel

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-38

Valium

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-39

Valium I.V.

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-40

Valium I.V./Albuterol

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-41

Xanax

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-42

Zoloft

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-43

Zyprexa

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-44

H/T: The Chive, Photos courtesy of Bryan Lewis Saunders

Marijuana

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-26

Valium I.V./Albuterol

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-41

Xanax

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-42

Zoloft

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-43

Zyprexa

self-portraits-different-drug-every-day-44

H/T: The Chive, Photos courtesy of Bryan Lewis Saunders

ANTHONY SELDEN

Anthony is a New York-based writer and a graduate of Johnson & Wales University with a passion for exploring the cooler things in life.

Always eager to inform, Anthony is the lifestyle editor at Elite Daily and is knowledgeable about pretty much anything within the walls of awesomeness: from the latest Lamborghini, to the most absurd burgers around.

He also enjoys spontaneous skateboarding sessions on New York City’s Upper East Side. Much like writing, it’s what keeps the guy alive.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder…Diagnosis of grieving Human

The news that 11% of school-age children now receive a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder — some 6.4 million — give the chill.

Ted Gup, an author and fellow of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, published this April 2, 2013

“My son David was one of those who received that diagnosis.

In his case, he was in the first grade.

Indeed, there were psychiatrists who prescribed medication for him even before they met him.

One psychiatrist said he would not even see him until he was medicated.

For a year I refused to fill the prescription at the pharmacy. Finally, I relented. And so David went on Ritalin, then Adderall, and other drugs that were said to be helpful in combating the condition.

In another age, David might have been called “rambunctious.” His battery was a little too large for his body. And so he would leap over the couch, spring to reach the ceiling and show an exuberance for life that came in brilliant microbursts.

As a 21-year-old college senior, he was found on the floor of his room, dead from a fatal mix of alcohol and drugs.

The date was Oct. 18, 2011.

No one made my son take the heroin and alcohol, and yet I cannot help but hold myself and others to account.

I had unknowingly colluded with a system that devalues talking therapy and rushes to medicate, inadvertently sending a message that self-medication, too, is perfectly acceptable.

My son was no angel (though he was to us) and he was known to trade in Adderall, to create a submarket in the drug among his classmates who were themselves all too eager to get their hands on it.

What he did cannot be excused, but it should be understood.

What he did was to create a market that perfectly mirrored the society in which he grew up, a culture where Big Pharma itself prospers from the off-label uses of drugs, often not tested in children and not approved for the many uses to which they are put.

And so a generation of students, raised in an environment that encourages medication, are emulating the professionals by using drugs in the classroom as performance enhancers.

And we wonder why it is that they use drugs with such abandon. As all parents learn, and to their chagrin, our children go to school not only in the classroom but also at home, and the culture they construct for themselves as teenagers and young adults is but a tiny village imitating that to which they were introduced as children.

The issue of permissive drug use and over-diagnosis goes well beyond hyperactivity.

In May, the American Psychiatric Association will publish its D.S.M. 5, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

This voluminous book is called the bible of the profession.

Its latest iteration, like those before, is not merely a window on the profession but on the culture it serves, both reflecting and shaping societal norms. (For instance, until the 1970s, it categorized homosexuality as a mental illness.)

One of the new, more controversial provisions expands depression to include some forms of grief. On its face it makes sense.

The grieving often display all the common indicators of depression loss of interest in life, loss of appetite, irregular sleep patterns, low functionality, etc. But as others have observed, those same symptoms are the very hallmarks of grief itself.

Ours is an age in which the airwaves and media are one large drug emporium that claims to fix everything from sleep to sex.

I fear that being human is itself fast becoming a condition. It’s as if we are trying to contain grief, and the absolute pain of a loss like mine.

We have become increasingly disassociated and estranged from the patterns of life and death, uncomfortable with the messiness of our own humanity, aging and, ultimately, mortality.

Challenge and hardship have become pathologized and monetized.

Instead of enhancing our coping skills, we undermine them and seek shortcuts where there are none, eroding the resilience upon which each of us, at some point in our lives, must rely. Diagnosing grief as a part of depression runs the very real risk of delegitimizing that which is most human — the bonds of our love and attachment to one another.

The new entry in the D.S.M. cannot tame grief by giving it a name or a subsection, nor render it less frightening or more manageable.

The D.S.M. would do well to recognize that a broken heart is not a medical condition, and that medication is ill-suited to repair some tears.

Time does not heal all wounds, closure is a fiction, and so too is the notion that God never asks of us more than we can bear.

Enduring the unbearable is sometimes exactly what life asks of us.

But there is a sweetness even to the intensity of this pain I feel. It is the thing that holds me still to my son.

And yes, there is a balm even in the pain. I shall let it go when it is time, without reference to the D.S.M., and without the aid of a pill.

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on April 3, 2013, on page A27 of the New York edition with the headline: Diagnosis: Human.
Note: And billion of people go hungry, suffer malnutrition…and die of curable diseases before the age of 5.
An ethics issue: Physicians dispensing drugs for healthy people?  And for kids to study?

 
The American Academy of Neurology now says: Stop that.

Adderall and other ADHD medications, a disorder characterized by problems with attention and hyperactivity, are used as “smart drugs” or “study drugs” by students who find the pills give them a mental edge.  These drugs are among the most prescribed drugs in America.

Adderall is the only drug class that showed increased use in 2012, the federal survey reported.

 Nancy Shute posted on Shot this March 14, 2013 under “Neurologists Warn Against ADHD Drugs To Help Kids Study”

Ten milligram tablets of the prescription drug Adderall. The drug is used to treat ADHD and is used by some students to boost their academic performance.

Ten milligram tablets of the prescription drug Adderall. Jb Reed/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The brain docs are directing that advice first and foremost to their fellow physicians, the ones who have been writing all those scrips for people who don’t have ADHD, or who perhaps don’t think about all the pills their patients sell on the student black market.

“We don’t believe that doctors are supposed to be drug dispensers for healthy people,” says William Graf, a professor of pediatrics and neurology at the Yale School of Medicine. “This is an ethics issue.”

But the message is also being sent to teenagers and their parents, some of whom who might think that giving their child a little leg up for a big test isn’t such a bad thing. The buzz term for that? “Pediatric neuroenhancement.”

Prescribing ADHD drugs to children who don’t have the disorder is “not justifiable,” according to the American Academy of Neurology’s new position paper: Children’s brains are still developing, the paper says, and they don’t have the ability to weigh the risks and benefits of medication.

Prescribing study drugs is “inadvisable” in teenagers, a word chosen to reflect both teenagers’ growing autonomy, and the fact that the Academy can’t tell doctors what drugs they can and can’t prescribe.

The number of children diagnosed with ADHD rose 24 percent from 2001 to 2011, according to a study published earlier this year. Over the same time, the number of prescriptions for Adderall and other ADHD drugs has soared exponentially.

More pills in circulation means more pills that can be bought, borrowed, or snitched.

Various surveys report that 8 to 35% of college students say they have used stimulant pills to improve school performance.

The neurologists are not saying that stimulant drugs shouldn’t be used to treat ADHD, “We’re not touching that here,” Graf told Shots.

What they are saying is that doctors have a moral obligation to protect the best interests of the child — who doesn’t yet have legal control over health care decisions — and to prevent the misuse of medication.

Amphetamines like Adderall and Vyvanse can be addictive, which is why they’re classified as Schedule II controlled substances, along with Oxycontin and morphine.

Side effects can be as simple as insomnia, or as serious as sudden high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and seizures.

Other popular ADHD drugs like Concerta and Ritalin are methamphetamine  and are considered less risky. But they can cause a wide range of side effects including insomnia, aggression, mood and behavior changes, twitching, and shaking.

About 15% of 12th graders say they misuse prescription drugs, according to the 2012 Monitoring the Future survey, and about 6% say they’ve misused Ritalin or Adderall.

“As a society we have a pill for everything,” Graf says. “It’s one thing if you’re taking something from the Vitamin Shoppe. It’s another thing if you’re talking about amphetamines.”

Doctors should talk with patients and parents about why they feel the need for academic performance enhancing drugs. They should point out that there are other ways to deal with competition and anxiety.

“We have to get back to the basics,” Graf says. “Sleep, exercise, and social interaction.”


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