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The term “drug addict” is not one that inspires empathy.  We as Americans hear the term and run. The last thing we want is our reputation to be blemished with images of an “addict”.  A heroin junkie blacked out on a sidewalk with a needle buried in her arm; a methamphetamine user selling his soul to get his next fix:  these are the images that as a society we are terrified, disgusted and horrified by. And these images justify our turning our backs on entire segments of our population–the homeless and prisoners to name two.

   The fact of the matter, however, is that anyone in America has the face of a drug addict.  In 2015, Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review reported that 17% of college students in the U.S. miss use ADHD drugs.  Specifically, Adderall has been targeted by students. Seeking a “study boost”, increased concentration, college students buy Adderall online or purchase the drug from friends prescribed Adderall as a medication.

Officials at college campuses nationwide are aware of the epidemic, but due to the largely benign picture of Adderall addiction in society as a whole, are powerless to combat it.  While addiction to marijuana, alcohol and even “harder” drugs is considered socially acceptable and so is visible, the fact to the Adderall addict is hidden. This is extremely problematic, as, unfortunately, so are the harms to the addict’s physical, social, emotional and spiritual life.  While those addicted to more “visible” drugs might suffer more from public criticism and ridicule, the addict hooked to Adderall tends to be invisible to the scrutiny of professors, parents, and peers. So while Henry-alcoholic loads up on the booze on the weekends, his use of the drug is likely curtailed by the demands of his classes–studying and attending.  Both, of course, activities severely limited by being drunk. The student popping or snorting Adderall pills, however, can both study and attend class while under the influence of the drug.

   While data does not support the notion that those abusing Adderall actually academically benefit, the intent to enhance focus is what makes it known as a “study booster” on campuses all over the country.  Furthermore, those using more visible drugs are more likely to receive aid if they overdose. If “Henry”, our college drinker, gets hammered and falls down a flight of stairs, and breaks a leg in the process, he goes to the hospital and gets patched up.  But fan Adderall addict overdoses while studying in her dorm, the results can be far more tragic.

 The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that taking Adderall can cause restlessness, aggression and increased blood pressure and heart rate.  This is a fact. Here’s another fact: It can also lead to death. The same study links Adderall abuse to seizures, heart attack and stroke.  How we see addiction is a matter of life and death.