Photo Illustration by Joseph Pack/Mustang News

Article by Jonathan Chodzko & video by Kristina Martin
Special to Mustang News

Adderall is in higher demand than cocaine today, according to Arroyo Grande Community Hospital nurse Kevin Coyle. One reason for this, Coyle said, is because of abuse on college campuses.

Prescription stimulants such as Adderall have a “calming and focusing effect on individuals with ADHD” and are prescribed to patients for daily use, according to

But the drug was not intended for the average student.

Wine and viticulture freshman Matt Culhane said many students use the drug in the residence halls, especially when exams come around.

“I know there is definitely a lot of kids who use it, but I don’t think it’s that big of a deal if someone is just using it for a week or two to study,” said Culhane.

College Statistics

According to

  • 30 percent of students abuse Adderall at some point in their college career.
  • Nearly 90 percent of college students who abuse Adderall also report binge drinking, and more than 50 percent were regular heavy alcohol users.
  • Full-time college students are twice as likely to abuse Adderall as their peers who aren’t in college.

Students use Adderall because of their high workloads and stress, industrial engineering senior Jacob Reeves said. Though Cal Poly is competitive, he doesn’t think that’s the main reason students take the drug — they’d rather get their work done quicker so they have time to socialize.

Peace of mind

Psychology senior Erin Reynolds has a prescription for Adderall and says students should think twice before taking it.

“I was prescribed Adderall when I was in fifth grade because of my ADHD,” Reynolds said. “It’s not something that I disclose, but I’ve been approached by some friends who come up and ask me if they can have some Adderall.”

Reynolds was a community college student prior to enrolling at Cal Poly, and said that she didn’t think most students were taking the drug recreationally until she got here and noticed more Cal Poly students talking about it during midterms and finals week.

“People with ADHD’s brain works differently, and this drug is designed to help treat that,” Reynolds said. “However, when people who don’t have ADHD take it, it will affect their brain differently, which would be my biggest concern.”

Listen to more of Reynolds’ story below.

YouTube video

Too much of a good thing

According to Coyle, all it takes is one or two experiences for someone to become reliant on the drug, and most students aren’t aware of the side effects that come with it.

“Most kids in college don’t think about taking drugs like this when you’re younger, but all the sudden you graduate, the real world starts, and you realize you need that extra boost in order to be successful, so you rely on the drug,” Reeves said.

Adderall has many potential side effects, including the development or worsening of mental disorders. Coyle said many of his patients who have abused the drug have developed mental health issues, but that he isn’t surprised by the number of kids in college who take Adderall on a regular basis.

“I actually had a patient come in who had no history of mental disorders or addictions, but started using Adderall once she got into law school,” Coyle said. “She was 30 years old, took one too many pills and just snapped. She developed paranoid schizophrenia and was put in a psych ward.”

Though taking Adderall isn’t new to the college scene, Coyle says the use has gone up over the last five to 10 years, and it has become more of a concern in the medical world.

According to, the students who do abuse Adderall are more prone to have high blood pressure, causing risk for heart attack. It can also cause hair and weight loss, anxiety and paranoia.

Adderall has helped millions with mental disorders since it was first created in 1996, but is something that should only be used by those who have been diagnosed with ADHD. If you or anyone you know has an addiction to Adderall or any other drug, please contact Cal Poly Health and Counseling services at (805) 781-4275.

Take the quiz below to test your knowledge of prescription stimulants such as Adderall. | Quiz by Mariah Bravo

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