Stimulant drug Adderall attracts student misuse at Norwich

Adderall pills like these are often misused in college without a prescription to heighten focus or ease anxiety. But they can have serious medical side effects when used incorrectly, and selling prescription drugs is illegal and can lead to state and federal charges.

The abuse of stimulant drugs such as Adderall has been noted as a medical concern in numerous studies in recent years, especially focusing on its misuse by college and high school students.

The National Center for Health Research (NCHR) in 2016 cited the potential risks and growing misuse of stimulants like Adderall, stating, “many people use these drugs for non-medical purposes and without a prescription, especially college students who buy them from a friend with a prescription.” In a report by Simon Essig Aberg, the Center added that “The use of drugs like Adderall and other so-called ‘study drugs’ has skyrocketed over the past two decades.”

Not surprisingly, students here at Norwich University admit – anonymously – to taking different stimulant drugs while in school. “I only used Adderall during finals week to stay awake longer and to be focused longer,” said Joe, a Norwich University student who requested anonymity. “I used it to stay alert and focused during finals.”

Joe added that he doesn’t usually use Adderall and that he only started buying it in college. “I paid for it and got it from people I trusted and was friends with,” he said, because he did not trust the random people that were selling it in his classes. His concern was to avoid buying the drug from an unreliable source, he said.

A civilian student (Cedar) who requested anonymity is one of the many students who sells Norwich students Adderall. He says he “would sell it to be able to make some money throughout the week.”

“I would take the amount I would need for the month then sell the rest to the people that would need it,” he explained. The surplus comes from not taking the correct dosage that his doctor recommended. He only takes the drug when it is needed in school rather than taking it daily.

Sales from those legally prescribed stimulants, commonly prescribed for young Americans diagnosed with ADHD, is the prevalent method of distribution, according to the National Center for Health Research report, which states that over the past decade, the manufacturing of prescription stimulants “has increased by a whopping 9 million percent!”

“A study of more than 10,000 college students from across the country found that more than half of students with an Adderall or other ADHD drug prescription were asked to sell the medication to peers and friends,” according to the NCHR. “Almost every student who abuses these drugs in college gets the drug from a friend or classmate with ADHD.”

Vermont statutes, according to the Criminal Defense Lawyer website, indicate someone selling the drug could face fairly stiff consequences. “Penalties vary according the amount of methamphetamine possessed. Fines range from up to $2,000 (for possessing less than 2.5 grams) to $250,000 (for 25 grams or more); jail or prison terms range from up to one year in jail, to up to ten years in prison.”

According to NCHR, many students with an Adderall or other ADHD prescription believe that distributing the drug is legal and a good way to make money. However, these drugs are Schedule II drugs, meaning the Drug Enforcement Agency has labeled it highly addictive. The minimum federal sentence for distributing a Schedule II drug like Adderall is five years in prison, something that NCHR notes very few students are aware of.

Most students at Norwich University explained that they would use the drug explicitly to aid in focusing on schoolwork and exams. Yet there are some students on campus that use the drug for recreational purposes to increase their alertness while inebriated.

“If I have one before I go out on a night of drinking it will keep me awake for longer,” said another student who requested anonymity. “If I had a long day and I know I am going out later I will have one pill to keep going to be able to have fun later in the night.”

“Cedar” added that there are occasions that he would use Adderall to help with writing papers and other homework assignments. Yet, most of the time, he would use the drug for improving his time out at night.

It is not uncommon for students here on campus to binge drink on the weekend, and it is becoming more and more popular to add illicit drugs into the mix.

According to Deb O’Hara, the physician’s assistant for Norwich University’s infirmary for almost nine years, taking stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin that were not prescribed to you can have very adverse effects. Side effects include increased heart rate and blood pressure, headaches, irritability, anxiety, paranoia, sleep disturbance, weight loss, stunted growth, decreased libido, and erectile dysfunction.

O’Hara said that taking these drugs can lead to an unhealthy dependence on them. To deter students from taking advantage of these drugs, Norwich utilizes a Controlled Medication Agreement form that gets your consent for counseling, regulation of pharmacies, dosage, and promise to safeguard the drugs prescribed to you. Currently O’Hara has roughly 12 students on-campus she prescribes Adderall to.

This number does not include those who have an outside prescription from other physicians.

“During the first year of college, 36 percent of students are offered stimulant drugs,” according to information on the website Medicine Abuse Project. “This number increases from freshman year to junior year by 5.9 percent topping off at 41.9 percent.”

During the senior year, the amount of students that use drops off by 9.9 percent, the website reported.

College students do not realize the severity of taking drugs that are not prescribed to them, and also potential consequences with employers.

According to O’Hara, many students stop taking stimulant drugs before coming to Norwich, but then they start back up their freshman year when they realize how much they depend on it for focus and stress. This is a problem for students especially in the Corps who hope to join the military and have to be clean for a year before testing.

Additionally drugs like Adderall and Ritalin are addictive and can pose long-range risks not anticipated by students who misuse the. According to, Adderall “is an addictive prescription stimulant with effects similar to cocaine. People regularly taking Adderall at unprescribed doses are at a high risk of becoming addicted.” The site also notes that over time, those habitually using Adderall “develop a tolerance to the drug and are unable to function normally without it.”

Here in Vermont, there are many ways to get help with drug abuse. Yet, ultimately it is up to students themselves to end the abuse and find help. If you ever find yourself struggling with drug abuse and need help, seek out the physicians in the infirmary and they will help you to the best of their ability.



  1. Unfortunately it’s a bigger problem than just at Norwich. Adderall abuse has skyrocketed in most every university campus as students are getting more competitive and the media, movies, and social media are only propelling the idea of “smart drugs” or “study drugs” as end-all-be-all answers to excelling in life.

    Unfortunately there’s no biological free lunch and all of these drugs do come with side effects as you mentioned.

  2. Adderall abuse is a serious danger overlooked by the FDA too. Doctors mindlessly prescribe this, even though so many people aren’t using it for its intended purposes.

    A shame, really, but no surprise considering how much the government actually cares for its citizens.

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