The Fat Envelope
A Discussion Of All Things College Admissions and Test Prep
I’ve seen a number of articles recently on the rising prevalence of illegal use of prescription ADHD medications.  I’ve spent a lot of time with ADHD students over the years, and I can say from first hand experience, using your friend’s Ritalin to help you study is an absolutely awful idea.  

It sounds like it should help.  If these medications can help my ADHD friend focus, what will they be able to do for someone with normal attention?  They’ll give me laser intense focus, right?  Not so much.  

ADHD medications like Ritalin and Strattera are stimulants.  They are chemically similar to illegal drugs like amphetamines (aka speed).  They help people with ADHD by revving up their brains so they can stay focused.  But for people with normal brains, they are just stimulants.  They will make you jittery, anxious and hyper; these are not exactly things you want to be on SAT day, when you’re likely to feel stressed and nervous already!  These drugs also tend to reduce your appetite, just when you need to be fueling up with healthy protein.

Some recent research also shows that college students who use prescription drugs for non-medical reasons tend to have lower grades.  They also skip 21% of their classes.  My guess is that these students aren’t spending enough time studying on a regular basis (maybe because they’re partying too much), so they’re using Ritalin when they cram for an exam.  It’s not a healthy strategy, and it doesn’t work.

So let your friend keep his meds.  If you need a pick-me-up, stick with coffee.

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