âÄúLet students use Adderall,âÄù a Dec. 12 column in the Minnesota Daily, advocated for increased availability of Adderall for students.
This drug has come to be known in the medical field as neuroenhancement. It is used to promote superior cognitive functioning in normal individuals.
This is not a new idea and even has some physician advocates. However, I would like to offer a different perspective.
Adderall is currently only approved by the FDA for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.
The drug is marketed specifically to treat inattention and hyperactivity and helps those who are impaired to function normally and remove any disadvantages. Using it otherwise would be considered off-label.
Although physicians are allowed to prescribe drugs off-label, this is generally limited to situations in which other treatments are not available.
Off-label use for neuroenhancement is inappropriate, as there is no identified problem to treat.
One of the key principles of medical ethics is the precautionary principle, which requires that there is sufficient evidence to support a medical intervention. The use of Adderall for neuroehnancement falls short of fulfilling this principle as this use has been minimally studied in normal populations.
The claim that it will improve performance in normal individuals is questionable.
One study found that it compromised performance in those without ADHD. Students who take non-prescribed Adderall actually have lower GPAs than those who donâÄôt.
Interestingly, the association of Adderall use with lower grades is mostly attributable to a pattern of skipping classes.
This suggests that students use non-prescribed Adderall for an alternative to appropriate attention to academic responsibilities rather than improved overall performance. Perhaps this explains why the majority of Adderall misuse occurs in the context of preparation for tests.
Although Adderall use might translate to some improved short term gains in knowledge for a test the next day, I am challenged to think that this leads to the sustained knowledge which is the goal of education.
Those who are concerned that the use of non-prescribed Adderall might be deemed to represent cheating and therefore become a conduct violation should consider that the illegal procurement and use of a controlled medication on campus already qualifies as a conduct violation, as well as a felony.