Don't turn to stimulant pills for academic success

In light of a recent article in The New York Times describing the death of college-age Adderall user Richard Fee, it is important to remember that Adderall and other stimulants are not the route to academic success.

Here at Carnegie Mellon, the use of stimulants may not seem as prevalent or widely discussed as on other college campuses. It is not uncommon, though, to hear students talk about using Adderall in the library or other studying facilities, especially during finals week.

While prescription medications used to treat A.D.D. and A.D.H.D. may seem like the answer to a tired brain before a late night of studying, it is important to consider the effects of these pills.

There are better ways to achieve success in college without using stimulants.

There are serious risks associated with Adderall, including physical and psychological dependence, extreme nervousness, and hallucinations, according to

Let’s not forget that using prescription drugs without a doctor’s approval is illegal.

Even when prescribed, Adderall can cause one out of every 400 patients to experience suicidal thoughts or psychotic behavior, according to a study by The American Journal of Psychiatry in 2006.

Despite these negative side effects, college students across the nation use stimulants to try to perform better academically.

The New York Times concluded “8 percent to 35 percent of college students take stimulant pills to enhance school performance.”

There are a variety of alternatives to Adderall and other stimulants that are not drugs, which can help students finish their studying and assignments at appropriate (or inappropriate) times in the evening.

You can find a companion from the same class — someone who can provide thought-provoking questions related to the assignment — off of whom you can bounce ideas. Alternatively, you can plan ahead before the assignment’s due date.

Even late night snacks can serve as motivation for finishing 30 pages of reading or one page of an essay. A positive mind can do wonders for the brain as well.

In any case, Adderall and other stimulants should never be the answer for completing assignments or studying. Sometimes, sleep may even be the best answer.