Adderall High: Students Drugging for Final Exams

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More than 6.4 million prescriptions for Adderall, the drug is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, were filled last year, according to a recent study.

But Hennepin County Medical Center researchers also found that one in four adult patients taking Adderall exaggerate their symptoms to get the drug.

University of Minnesota student Christopher Meyer said he used to buy Adderall to help him stay awake, especially during exam time.

"When I first started doing it, I was getting it illegally," he recalled. "And I had to pay $10 a pill during finals... It certainly has a reputation as a study drug."

The pill is not meant to help students pull all-nighters. It's meant to help control hyper active children and others who have genuine difficulty staying focused.

Doctors say that while it does improve concentration and alertness, the drug is addictive and comes with risks.

"It's an FDA approved medication so many people perceive it as safe. Whether it is or not for them to take is another issue," said Dr. Eric Heiligenstein, head of psychiatry for the University of Wisconsin health services.

Adderall can dangerously increase your heart rate, elevate blood pressure, and even cause insomnia. Frequent use can also cause psychiatric problems.

But Adderall abuse is on the rise on college campuses across the country, especially during final exam time.

"And that's why physicians are cautious about prescribing," explained health clinic psychiatrist Dr. Gary Christensen, with the University of Minnesota.

"At the University of Minnesota, the increased demand has in-part led to a state-wide shortage of the drug," he added, warning that "clinicians need to be more discriminating."

Health officials say they are now screening students more carefully.

"We at the University of Minnesota feel that it is also important to have neuropsychological testing as is offered by Hennepin County Medical Center and other locations," Christensen said.

The Adderall boom on campus is big business for those students who want to make a quick buck and illegally sell their pills.

But anyone who gets caught could end up in prison.

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