Performance Enhancing Drugs Take on New Meaning

Grace Hilty

Performance enhancing drugs are usually associated solely with athletes. However, one branch of these drugs that is often overlooked is academic aid. Stimulants such as Adderall, Ritalin, and even caffeine are now used by high school students all around the nation.

As ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) testing became more readily available in the 1990’s, so did abuse of medications used to treat ADHD symptoms. Because many more young adults had prescriptions to these drugs, other students began to bribe their way into this seemingly innocent “drug scene.”

“We only turn to Adderall to cope with the stress of Lamorinda academics,” said an anonymous MHS junior. “Otherwise, there would be no possibility of a 4.0 while taking honors and AP classes, as well as participating in athletics, community service, and other extracurricular activities.”

This abusive, and sometimes dangerous, habit is becoming a rising fad among high school students. As finals week was looming at Miramonte, many students turned to friends and siblings with prescriptions to ADHD medicines to make studying easier and faster.

“The pressure was definitely there,” said one MHS sophomore who avoided these performance-enhancing drugs. “Several of my friends were doing it, and I felt like it would benefit my GPA, but I avoided it. It wouldn’t have been worth any consequences I may have had to face.”

“I don’t do drugs. I use Adderall as a study aid, but I don’t do drugs,” said a senior. As a general rule, high school and college students see drugs as recreational stimulants that “enhance the user’s view of the world.” But oftentimes, abuse of prescription drugs can be all the more dangerous than abuse of street drugs. Prescription drugs are thought of to be “safe” drugs because a medical professional prescribes a specific dosage and okays the use of the drug.

Many young adults do not take account of the fact that these prescriptions are only prescribed to treat one individual’s symptoms. The guidelines given to one person may be entirely different than those given to any other individual. For example, a 280-pound male would have a different recommended dosage of a drug than one given to a 120-pound female. This confusion and lack of knowledge as to appropriate dosage of a certain prescription drug has led to a 78% increase in calls to poison control centers since 1990.

Several schools around the nation are taking the initiative. Miramonte, with a very strict academic honesty policy, seems a step behind. Students are educated about and advised to avoid a very particular sect of cheating. This would include sneaking notes into a test, copying the answers off of someone else’s paper, or not citing sources properly. One major problem with drug education and academic honesty policies in many high schools is that a popular and prevalent portion of cheating and drug use is entirely ignored.

These drugs are not used recreationally, but as a way of life in a strenuous, academically challenging environment such as Miramonte.

Until this problem is addressed and students are informed that this type of behavior is a fully reprehensible form of cheating and drug abuse, this trend will continue to affect the lives of many Lamorinda students.