Illegal usage of Adderall and other prescription amphetamines, which are used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), has a large yet underground presence at Hopkins.
Amphetamines increase the release of dopamine in the brain, creating a sense of pleasure and allowing users to focus on tasks and to stay awake.
In addition to Adderall, ProCentra and Vyvanse are commonly prescribed amphetamines.
People who use amphetamines without a prescription do so for both work and recreational purposes.
One anonymous student who uses and occasionally sells amphetamines said that the drugs have a significant impact on their productivity.
“It’s like steroids for the brain,” the student said. “You can take one of those, and ideas will just come into your head if you’re writing an essay. It’ll just write itself basically. It’s amazing.”
In a typical week, the student uses amphetamines only twice. However, their use increases during finals.
“Probably the whole two weeks, if I can get my hands on Adderall, I’d do about two pills a day, four days a week, for two weeks,” the student said.
Another student, who has used a variety of amphetamines and also wished to remain anonymous, uses the drug less frequently.
“[I’d use them] maybe every other week... I’ve never found that it was something I could study on,” the student said. “If I was going to try to do work, I would end up focusing on the wrong thing very quickly. And then I would just waste 12 hours without even realizing it, because you kind of lose sense of time.”
Jonah Scott, a junior at Peabody, said he finds the illegal use of amphetamines for productivity to be unethical.
“There’s no reason to be using a drug that has a purpose for people who need it just because you don’t think you can focus enough when it’s crunch time,” Scott said.
Both anonymous students said that their amphetamine use was primarily for recreational purposes.
The first anonymous student proclaimed Adderall is his or her party drug of choice.
“Now I’m more inclined to party using Adderall, or, if I can, cocaine, but Adderall is a very cheap alternative to cocaine,” the student said. “You’re zoned in, so it allows you to stay later up at night. But it intensifies what you’re doing, and you’re on top of your game. You’re talking to people, and you feel like you’re dominating the social circle that you’re in, in some occasions. Others you’re just dominating the conversation. You feel like you’ve got this leg up on whatever it is that you’re doing... It adds this effect of confidence and center.”
That student also noted that Adderall has two varieties. The standard IR version instantly releases the drug, whereas Adderall XR takes a longer time to kick in.
“[For partying], Adderall is the way to go. Snort it. You would crush it, and it’d have to be instant release,” the student said.
The second anonymous student said he or she often used amphetamines socially.
“Typically in a party setting," the students said. "I never took them alone.”
That student spoke about using Adderall, Focalin and Ritalin, the last two of which are also used to treat ADHD. The student has stopped using amphetamines and now prefers to use cocaine and MDMA.
“[With cocaine and MDMA], I don’t focus on anything on them,” the student said. “It’s like lack of focus. It’s enjoyable... [Amphetamines] let me think about one thing too much because your brain always goes faster on them. The focus was just too much for me. Your brain always got caught up on something. If I was on it and crushing another pill, I would just crush that pill for 20 minutes, and that was just too much focus on it.”
According to the first anonymous student, many other students who have medical prescriptions for amphetamines deal their pills to their friends.
“I have friends who get prescribed, and then they sell it to me,” the student said. “One of my friends — his doctor is prescribing him 120 mg of amphetamines every day for the foreseeable future. His doctor is giving him 50 mg of Adderall and 70 mg of Vyvanse. It’s an insane amount. It’s irresponsible, but I guess that reflects the culture these days of the amphetamine business in the medical sector.”
Despite the demand for amphetamines on campus, the student said that theft is rare.
“Nobody steals them,” the student said. “And nobody is going to make copies. So I mean unless you’re getting your stuff from some kind of Mexican cartel that’s making fake pills, there’s really nobody that makes them other than the companies that are legally allowed to make them in the U.S.”
The student described that the amphetamine trade at Hopkins has a relaxed atmosphere based on the personal connections between users. He said he could get in contact with 12 different people who sell amphetamines and knows around 80 people who use them.
“[I only sell] to people I know,” the student said. “It’s just on a request basis, and it’s basically just shuffling around, because I’ll even make a couple bucks off it, but not at a dealer level. As a favor. The drug gets around more through these kind of friend relationships, like ‘Oh, can I have an Adderall here and there and there?’”
The student described some of the side effects experienced while taking amphetamines.
“All of them screw up your eating,” the student said. “Those drugs, they inhibit your hunger. You take them on an empty stomach in the morning, and you just won’t eat for six to eight hours on an empty stomach. You definitely come down after you use it, and there’s this point where your brain just stops working. You can feel it slowing down. Everything just stops. Your trains of thought are just much slower than you would be sober. It’s much harder to get things connected in your mind. If you’ve done a huge bend... it kind of sucks the emotion out of you.”
Amphetamine pills usually come in 10 to 20 mg doses. Both amphetamine users said that pills in those doses typically cost between three and eight dollars per pill, depending on dosage and brand. The highs from one pill can last from four to 12 hours.
The student believed that he or she took amphetamines safely but stressed that the drugs are highly addictive.
“It’s not that bad of a drug that I would consider stopping what I do normally now,” the student said.