Prescription drugs shouldn’t be used to help with studying

I’ve decided I’m going to graduate school, which means I’m taking the GRE, which means I’m freaking the freak out.

Tests and I have never gotten along. I need five days, a lot of flash cards and coffee to pass anything in college. Yes, I got a good enough ACT to get into the University, but I’m pretty sure it’s also because I wished on many 11:11’s. And one can’t forget the time I took the SAT three times. With a track record like mine, it’s no wonder that I fantasize about just calling it quits and being a ranch hand in Montana.

Obviously, I’m not the only one panicking. There are so many of us who are preparing for the GRE, the LSAT, the MCAT or the GMAT — the alphabet testing soup of horrors goes on. There are even more high school seniors who are busting their cojones studying for the SAT and ACT. It’s enough to make someone desperate.

Desperate enough to take amphetamines and methylphenidates to get through it all.

High school students, freshmen through seniors, are taking pills such as Adderall or Ritalin to get better grades and test scores. The pills, when taken by someone without ADHD, give a rush of energy. The pills are also labeled “Class 2 controlled substances,” the same class as cocaine and morphine, because of their addictive nature.

My heart goes out to these high school kids (and a big piece of my heart hoped my 17-year-old brother was just getting by on long-hour library sessions and frantic physics notes). Yes, getting good grades is important. In fact, sometimes it’s the most important thing in the world. We spent a good chunk of our adolescent years kicking butt so we may end up in a respectable college.

Still, it’s terrible that kids would get to the point where they feel they do better with the amps and the methyls in their system.

The number of users has undoubtedly gone up. Since 2007, the number of prescriptions for ADHD medications for 19 year olds has increased by 26 percent. There is a justified right to be concerned.

But the thing that really caught my attention, however, was that these pills are used in college and graduate school circles. It turns out that we’re making the same mistake as our younger counterparts.

And as the older, wiser and more influential generation, we need to stop. Just. Stop.

First of all, this is wholly unfair to kids who are able to win without Adderall. I know many people who do phenomenally on their own. But at least one of them has to just survive on long studying, a healthy amount of caffeine, and a package of stress balls.

Secondly, what about the kids who genuinely need Adderall for ADHD? A couple of my friends with ADHD have expressed how it’s almost an insult to them — they legitimately take it to calm down, and their peers are snorting the stuff to get into a top tier law school.

But the most important piece is it’s not worth it. We do a lot of crazy things for education: We have study parties, we pull all-nighters, we drink too many ventis, we break down and cry to our moms, dads, whoever will listen.

But at the end of the day, if it affects our health in any negative way, we shouldn’t do it. Yes, I want to do well and get into a good grad school. But not at the sake of harming myself.

We need to realize that in order to succeed, we really, really don’t need to pop in an Adderall or snort down a Ritalin. And we need to realize that, for the high schoolers who feel like they can’t do it without a “little somethin’,” the ones who could. We need to be role models.

Tolu is a senior in Media.