Why is it that the United States, a world power enmeshed in a catastrophic 40 year “War on Drugs,” is the country most hesitant to take action against Adderall? Though the drug has been classified as a Schedule II drug–the same category as cocaine and morphine — it’s certainly not prosecuted with the vigor of the aforementioned drugs. What we’re seeing, as usual, is selective prosecution. Much like marijuana offenses, minorities are often subject to the fullest extent of the law, while college-bound, suburban offenders can rack up two or three warnings and a finger wagging without ever finding themselves behind bars.
What’s special about Adderall is that this drug is most commonly abused by this very same group of college-bound suburbanites. So what’s our stance on all this? Rather than beat around the bush any longer, I feel several things need to be stated. First: the pharmaceutical profit from Adderall is enormous, in addition to being produced by an American company. Second: unlike its Schedule II chums morphine and cocaine, the effects of Adderall are positively American– fit for the family-neglecting, profit-driven lawyer, banker, or investor. Also, unlike morphine and cocaine, the raw material for Adderall is not tied up in a foreign market, as are the Asian and South American crops of opium and coca.
Is the life destroying potential of Adderall any less severe than heroin or cocaine? Are the debilitating effects hidden by its relative newness, and the fact that it’s most commonly abused by upwardly mobile youths, who, in their incredibly nerdy way, have recreationalized it to do homework?
Take this tragically misguided Ivy League freshman, who flippantly weighs false alternatives while recalling her decision to take Adderall without a prescription during high school. I quote:
“It wasn’t that hard of a decision. Do I want only four hours of sleep and be a mess, and then underperform on the test and then in field hockey? Or make the teachers happy and the coach happy and get good grades, get into a good college and make my parents happy?”
I can hear the poor girl’s teeth chattering from here.
Even the snazzy New York Times article “Risky Rise of the Good-Grade Pill” seems to be missing the story, and instead plays into the hands of concerned parents, anxious teens, and the drug industry. Acknowledging that Adderall has an incredibly high addictive potential and can lead to harder drugs, and tacitly approving the FDA’s clearance of it, as well as doctors’ ease at prescribing it, makes for a muddled argument.There’s a quote from a heroin addict who started on Adderall:
“Once you break the seal on using pills, or any of that stuff, it’s not scary anymore — especially when you’re getting A’s.”
I would argue there’s a bit of predestination at play here. While middle school drug education is forged around the “slippery slope” model, I would argue the point teleologically. Though not totally fated, is a person who is addicted to heroin likely to have started with heroin? I argue no. So you can’t rightly go back and choose a culprit substance, because the culprit is addiction itself.
One doctor quoted in the article states that because Adderall is new, the long-term effects cannot be determined for those who take it without a prescription. That statement is nonsensical because Adderall’s method of action is not fully known. In other words, do we know the long term effects of Adderall for those who are prescribed? So what’s the difference?