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Paying attention to Adderall use on college campuses


Maintaining focus in work and school can be...can be...Sorry, lost my train of thought. Oh, yes, difficult - especially so, some have argued, in the era of Facebook and Google.

A nice article in today's Stanford Daily touches on the temptation that Adderall and other cognitive-enhancing drugs present on the college campus. (The issue was taken up by 60 Minutes in a recent segment.)

From the Daily article:

Abusing cognitive stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin carries little negative stigma because of their FDA approval and their widespread presence on campus. These qualities, in turn, make obtaining the drugs a simple task and make enforcing their abuse extremely difficult.

But despite the author's mention of "rising rates of Adderall abuse" at Stanford, she provides little evidence that use is substantial, or even increasing, on campus. In fact, she points to a University of Kentucky study, which found that students on top of the academic game are less likely to resort to drugs than their struggling counterparts. That finding flies in the face of a common perception that Adderall users are academic superachievers looking to snag a competitive advantage over simple overachievers.

Stanford law professor Hank Greely, who specializes in the ethics of cognitive enhancements, argues in the Daily story that, whether or not Stanford is a hotbed of Adderall use (and he thinks it is not), there's nothing inherently wrong with cognitive enhancement through drugs:

"I'm a teacher; my job is cognitive enhancement. Caffeine is a cognitive enhancement. I don't think there's anything special about enhancing with drugs that makes it morally different."

Greely also discussed issue in a 2009 1:2:1 podcast.

Photo by hipsxxhearts

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