Project for Open Voices: “An Even Playing Field”

The Thrill is proud to feature personal narratives courtesy of the Project for Open Voices. Today’s essay was authored anonymously for POV’s new publication. POV is always accepting new submissions, so if you want to share your story, email – if you prefer to submit anonymously, the login password is kenyoncollege.


Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse, Concerta, you know, “study aids.” I can almost guarantee that come finals, midterms, or any other significant period of academic stress you will encounter at least one, if not more students abusing these medications without a prescription. The widespread use of such stimulant medications is no secret on this campus. I mean I know my friends do. I know you don’t see it as a big deal and that you mean no harm.

But as a student with a learning disability that requires me to take such medications, I wish I had the courage to tell you that every time you just “pop an Adderall” or whatever you make my life ten times harder and you trivialize something I’ve struggled with my entire life. I want to tell you that these pills make me feel numb and empty inside. That I would give anything not to take them, or more precisely not to need them. I wish you knew that when you sit down and, in two hours or less, crank out that final paper I’ve been working on for over two weeks, you raise the bar and set the expectations of professors to an impossibly high standard that no matter how hard I try, I will never be able to reach. I don’t have any magic pills or study aids. What turns you bionic, I need to reach normal.

21 responses

      • Most steroids have negative medical consequences and the general idea of their immorality is that they hurt the integrity of sports. Not a fair comparison. How about this: is a person with a weak immune system allowed to take medicine to get better, or should she have to rely only on her body’s own natural resources? If you put adderall in the same category as steroids then I’ll just go ahead and put it in the same category as Advil.

      • ^But I guess as a response to my own earlier point you could say that abuse of study aids hurts the integrity of academia…

  1. Seems to me either you need this stuff medically, or you don’t. And if you don’t, taking it just to gain an advantage is like plain ol cheating to me.

  2. This is an incredible narrative! I am so happy that someone is finally talking about this! I talk about this to my friends frequently and I feel like I get blank responses. I am so impressed with whoever wrote this and hope this gets talked about and addressed in a much larger way. Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. really? cuz its been about 3 years and i feel fantastic every morning i pop an adderall…have you considered upping to 25XR?


    And also when people fake symptoms to get prescriptions (for themselves or to sell), sometimes the pharmacy runs out and doesn’t get any more for the rest of the year. PSA: pharmacies get ONE shipment of these meds per year. Many of us have been unable to get the medicines we need to function because people who don’t need it are taking it. Drink coffee, for gods sake! I wish they could feel the difference and understand what it’s like to try to write a paper when you feel like your brain is full of bees.

  5. I have the same problems… but I don’t use drugs.
    You have to constantly up the dose and eventually you’ll get nowhere.
    You won’t be able to reach that “normal” level anymore if you keep using it.
    Try to get off of it. Your body will stop increasing its tolerance.

    Also, most children/students don’t need these drugs. Parents are soo afraid of their children falling behind in classes, they pressure the doctors to diagnose and prescribe drugs. I’ve noticed that many of students who receive prescription drugs don’t need it. If these drugs are used continually, eventually these students become reliant on it and the need is created from abusing the drug. Tolerance is increased and addiction may occur.

  6. Drugs like Adderall and Ritalin have been shown to work best on younger children–i.e. NOT COLLEGE STUDENTS–if you wanted to know. The body doesn’t react the same and shouldn’t be on it. I’m not saying some people legitimately need the drugs or that they don’t work, it’s just that they oftentimes don’t work as well, and you have to switch to a more expensive drug.

    • Children shouldn’t be put on these drugs.
      Take a neuroscience class at the college.
      Pscyhopharmacology will teach you wonders.

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