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TOPIC: In Their Own Words: 'Morning Coffee'

In Their Own Words: 'Morning Coffee' 07 Mar 2013 22:51 #61

CAOOY Note: "In Their Own Words" is a series of editorials written by teens and young adults, male and female, from across the country, regarding their experiences with ADHD/depressive medication. We will continue featuring selections from the page, but if you would like to read more go here. Each will be prefaced by Alan Schwarz of The New York Times.

In Their Own Words: 'Morning Coffee'

At high schools around the nation, pressure over grades and competition for
college admissions are encouraging students to abuse prescription stimulants.

A 16-year-old, determined to succeed on her own merits, who finally bends under the pressure. Students with legitimate prescriptions who are hounded for their pills. Young men and women whose use of stimulants spirals out of control.

After inviting students to submit personal stories of the abuse of prescription drugs for academic advantage, The Times received almost 200 submissions. While a majority focused on the prevalence of these drugs on college campuses, many wrote about their increasing appearance in high schools, the focus of our article on Sunday. We have highlighted about 30 of the submissions below, almost all written by current high school students or recent graduates.

In often vivid detail — snorting their own pills, stealing pills from friends — the students described an issue that they found upsetting, valuable, dangerous and, above all else, real. Most of them claimed that it was a problem rooted not in drugs per se, but with the pressure that compelled some youngsters to use them.
— Alan Schwarz

Morning Coffee
Female, 18, Sarasota, Fla.

Adderall has been, on and off, a part of my life since sophomore year in high school. Currently, I am a rising sophomore at a top 20 university out of state, and the decision not to stay clean plagues me every time I take a pill in the morning. At first, I used it in the same way as many other students, to crank up study sessions or to meet a strict deadline. By junior year, it had progressed to something much more than that. I started taking Adderall every single morning, just to wake up, and to give me enough energy to last through the day. On those long, foggy days I'd forget to take it, my mind would be in sleep mode, dozing in class and drifting in thought. While I had no problem giving these "study pills" to friends, I'd always warn them of the side effects, the reliance, the memory problems that inevitably resulted, and the harsh mood swings that they often brought on. My warnings seemed about as hollow as their acknowledgments of them. I knew (and still know) that they do more harm than good, as my moods can change on a dime and my memory is worse and worse, but getting a decent grade on a test that others seem to effortlessly ace seems worth it. Adderall hasn't become a study drug to me, it's become a way of life. It's my morning cup of coffee, only nobody told me the insidious side effects. The standards of a top ranked school have that ability to cloud my judgement, and though I'm completely aware of it, I know there's not much I can do. Though I can feel my heart beating faster than normal when I take just half a pill, the thought that my habit could be ruining my body is only fleeting, and I return to my work, just like everyone else around me.


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