Adderall is like candy for college students.
We pop it for work, and blow it for pleasure. We’re addicted to it. We’re better students on it. We’re harder partiers — thinner, sharper. We have prescriptions.
A little over a month ago, I had my first visit with a school psychiatrist, aka the “Candyman,” because that’s what we call him. I had never sought therapy in any formal capacity, nor had I ever been medicated for any neurological glitch or deficiency. But my crippling tendency to procrastinate under pressure felt more threatening than usual. I wasn’t approaching any scary deadlines or falling behind in any of my classes, which is why, I guess, my insidious, self-perpetuating anxiety seemed unprecedentedly odd and kind of scary. So I made an appointment. After a single session, I walked out with a prescription for a rather liberal dosage of Adderall — 20 mg twice a day, to be precise.
“And if that doesn’t work, we’ll try Vyvanse.” Ha!
Just like that. Forty-two minutes divulging the moderately ugly details of my self-destructive study habits landed me an ADHD diagnosis and a shitload of a sexy drug whose label reads “amphetamine salts.” Amphetamine salts! Lovely. You know that wild video of a meth head shattering a McDonald’s drive-thru window with her fist because she couldn’t get McNuggets at 10 a.m.? I wonder if she was smoking amphetamine salts.
I started talking to a few of my friends who’d been awarded similar prescriptions during their time at college. I was out of the loop, apparently. Not-so-mild attention deficit medications are sinfully easy for us Williams students to get our jittery paws on, and the Candyman is notorious for over-prescribing Adderall. I don’t think the issue is unique to Williams — friends at other colleges report similar patterns and, if I’m keeping it real, I don’t know much about prescription drug culture, but I’m pretty damn sure the Adderall epidemic is fairly national.
What is it? What is this drug that overworked college students abuse and underachieving 12-year-olds…take?
It’s a diet pill. Sam takes it to curb her appetite because her anorexic coke habit was becoming impossible to fund.
It’s a useful tool for those who party. Winston only takes it after hours, when he’s exhausted from lacrosse practice and running on 200 minutes of sleep but still wants to get fucked up tonight.
It’s a multivitamin. We take it because it makes us feel like higher-functioning, more coherent, organized individuals. It makes us feel like what we’re doing is important and what we’re saying is funny and brilliant and, likely, has never before been said. It makes us feel closer to perfect.
I shared my concerns with my small radio class; our work necessitates a certain level of group oversharing. I know about Conor’s affair with heroin and Elizabeth’s with bulimia. So they know about my sexual frustration, my body hate, and my Adderall. As the room emptied, my professor called after me.
“Tati…just on a personal note, be careful with that stuff. With the Adderall, I mean. I just know…from experience…I thought I taught some of my best classes on that shit. I thought I was quicker and more direct and hilarious than average, and turns out…I wasn’t. I should’ve known you started taking it…that or Ritalin…just be careful. Take care of yourself. Make sure you’re taking vitamins and drinking a lot of water and monitoring your eating habits. Take care of yourself, really.”
I’m not taking care of myself.
I take the Adderall when I’m feeling hungry or sad or tired. I think about my high school friend whose severe eating disorder emerged alongside her ADHD diagnosis. I think about my middle school friend whose mom supported the drug because when her daughter was on it, her room was tidier.
It helps us study, too. We go to Williams. We get As.
Thank you, Candyman.