An attempt to get ahead

Issue March/April 2017 By Djanira Leal

It is no secret that law school is a difficult and competitive journey. Students have their own strategies to get ahead, and there are many resources on the internet for tips on how to succeed while in school. So where do performance-enhancing drugs come into play?

Adderall (amphetamine), Ritalin (methylphenidate) and Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate) are stimulant drugs prescribed to those diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). These stimulants are used to treat symptoms, such as the inability to focus, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Side effects include bladder pain, bloody or cloudy urine, lower back or side pain, appetite loss, dizziness, and more. Another problem with the use of these drugs is the possibility of dependence. Tolerance can be quickly built, which leads to a dangerous path of abuse.

Today, many students who have not been diagnosed with ADHD take stimulants, such as Adderall, to improve their studying capacity, especially around finals time. Finals time is likely the most stressful period during school, given that most grades hinge on the performance of one final exam. Interestingly enough, there has been research that shows confidence in these types of stimulant drugs are possibly misplaced: Adderall may help with improvement among lower performing students, but among higher performers, there is no improvement or worse performance with Adderall use.

According to the National Law Journal, it is difficult to determine the actual amount of students who use Adderall or other brands, because students are not forthcoming with their use - as it is illegal. Also, there does not appear to be much research and studies on Adderall use among law students, but a quick search leads to many forums where law students are inquiring about its use in studying.

If you or anyone you know has a potential substance abuse problem, please do not hesitate to contact your school's counseling center. They are there to help.

Djanira Leal is a second year, part-time evening student at Suffolk University Law School. During the day, she is a corporate assistant with Foley & Lardner LLP in Boston.

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