All-night rage: Adderall as a party drug
By Jilian Gundling
Published on Friday, February 2, 2007
I sat at lunch and listened to a member of the Class of 2009, who asked to remain anonymous, describe his experiences snorting Adderall. I couldn't help but be amused at the mysterious, slightly sketchy nature of this conversation. Many people talk freely about Adderall as a drug used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD and studying purposes, but getting people to talk about the slightly darker side of Adderall -- using the drug to aid in late-night raging -- is a slightly more difficult task.
Through the grapevine I collected names of students rumored to use Adderall recreationally, but when I asked some of these students for anonymous interviews I was often met with denials. They looked at me as if I was a Safety and Security officer. One student condescendingly told me that he didn't think I even understood what Adderall was.
I finally secured this lunch interview with the sophomore, who told me he occasionally uses Adderall for recreational purposes and has never used it to study.
"I take it to go out or just for fun. I usually do it with some friends," he said.
For him, the appeal of Adderall lies in the energy it provides. "After taking it you feel very energetic, talkative," he said. "If you are in a party atmosphere you will be more engaged in it. You feel in control. It's empowering."
The student finds Adderall especially useful when combined with alcohol. "You don't get drunk and pass out," he said. "You will still be drunk, but lucid."
This is an effect that psychiatrist Mark Reed, director of counseling and development at Dick's House, finds dangerous. "I think commonly people take it so they feel high and awake and can drink longer without passing out," Reed said. "This is a danger, because passing out is a mechanism to stop people from drinking more when they have had too much. Otherwise people just keep drinking."
To get Adderall, the student buys from friends who have been diagnosed with ADHD and have perscriptions.
"From what I've seen I think there are a lot of kids here who sell it," he said. "I don't usually get it for free. It is usually five dollars a pill, sometimes $15 for 10 milligrams or 20 milligrams. I'll buy five to six pills and then split them between my friends."
To get a more instant high, the sophomore snorts the drug. "I place a dollar bill over the pill and then run a lighter over the bill. That breaks it up," he said. "I then use my old health insurance card and chop it and break it into pieces," he explained, laughing. "I like using my health insurance card. I find it ironic."
He takes about 30 to 70 milligrams of Adderall throughout the course of the night, but not all at once. "Usually I do a line and then half an hour later do another," he said.
According to Reed, Dick's House takes precautions when prescribing Adderall. "Students can misplace their prescriptions one time, but if they 'lose' them a second time then we choose whether to let that student continue with Adderall or not," Reed said.
Often, students are prescribed long-acting Adderall, releases the drug slowly. The short-acting version of the drug is more useful for getting high. "With short-acting you get a peak. We often prescribe more long-acting Adderall," Reed said. "It lasts over 12 hours and is time released."
Adderall, a stimulant, is in the same family as cocaine. "People can experience mild highs and euphoria," Reed said. "If someone takes a pound of it they might experience anxiety or cardiac problems."
According to the sophomore, the negative side of Adderall is the crash after the high, and the inability to sleep. "It feels weird when you are coming down off of it," he said. "You feel kind of sick to your stomach. Also I can't sleep after taking it. People call it 'tweaker' sleep, tossing and turning. You know how a person's leg twitches in class sometimes when you fidget? Sometimes my leg will do that when I'm lying in bed."
Although he is one of the only students willing to be interviewed, the sophomore is not alone in his use of Adderall. "A lot of people do Adderall purely for recreation," he said, "I know more than enough people, more than I can count off the top of my head."
Reed also recognizes that such substance abuse occurs at Dartmouth. "It's hard to know the exact numbers out there," Reed said, "but abuse of prescription medications are the highest-growing substance abuse problems."
Despite the negative aspects of Adderall, the sophomore does not plan to stop using it anytime soon. "It's fun," he said. "I'm sort of a happier person after taking it. But having experienced it in a recreational sense I have no desire to use it for studying. I think it is too disorganized an experience for studying."