Study Drugs: America’s silently abused drug

It’s getting into the early hours of the morning in the library at the University of Denver. The sky is turning lighter shades of blue with each passing minute, a disconcerting  sight for the many students crunching for their impending final exams. A student sits, eyes locked into his computer screen typing a million miles an hour with sweat pouring from his armpits like Niagara Falls, he as taken the illicit “study drug” adderall. This student however, does not have a prescription for this legal medicine, he has purchased it for $4 from a buddy who does.

You may think he’s alone in the pack of early morning crunchers who are under the influence of this legally prescribed amphetamine, but you’d be dead wrong. A recent University of Kentucky study found, after interviewing around 1,800 undergraduate students, a staggering 34% had used the drug illegally (without a prescription). To put it in perspective the National Institute on Drug abuse reports only 4.4% of students nationwide say they use cocaine making it the second most abused simulate behind adderall.

“Everyday I see more and more high school to college level age kids come in and tell me they have abused adderall,” said Adam Becker, a drug and alcohol educator. Becker, an employee of the Salud Family Health Center in Denver, Colorado, is shocked by the numbers he sees come in but also left in no-mans-land. The center doesn’t take the use of adderall “very seriously at all” according to Becker. Limited treatment is available since the center is more concerned with those struggling with harder stimulants like methamphetamine and ecstasy.

Given its prescription status many students don’t feel theres any dangers involved with the drug. In the UK study mentioned earlier many students felt this way about the drug, “it could not be sold to the public if it wasn’t safe. I think it is the FDA, right?, that does all that… I mean who looks to see if coke or meth is clean? Nobody,” said Robert a undergraduate student taking part in the study. He wasn’t the only one, many in the study had very similar assertions about the drug. Another student in the study Caroline said, “Adderall is safe because how it’s made. When you get it, you know that it is not made in a bathtub by a bunch of dirty druggies. You get it at Krogers (a grocery store).”

The arguments  seem valid considering when you think that the students are selling it to them are prescribed to take it daily and most of these student used it for studying on occasion. Also on their side of the argument, overdosing on adderall requires an obscene amount of consumption. According to, a lethal dose of adderall for a male 150 pounds is 1,360mg of the stuff, meanwhile the average prescription is only about 10mg. Eating 136 adderall pills is obscene and purely suicidal as is taking an extreme amount of any prescription drug.

The dangers however, may not just be of deaths but rather the effects of the drug. “Any drug that is not prescribed to you is not safe to take,” Becker says with a stern tone in his voice, “those who are prescribed are closely monitored by their doctors to make sure they aren’t overusing or the drug isn’t having any horrible side affects on the patient.” Without this guidance many students are actually using the drug excessively and beyond its designed purpose.

I sat down with a senior at the University of Denver to talk about his experiences with the drug. In order to maintain confidentiality I will only be using his first name, Randy. When asked about the first time he used the drug the answer was rather shocking, “The first time I used it was in my junior year of high school and i snorted some at a party… I later used it for study purposes but still love to party with it here and there.” Randy is not alone in this respect however, the drug has a dual effect that many love.

I spoke over the phone with a Villanova University student, a junior there named Max. Max said he discovered the drug when he was a freshman at the university and in a desperate place with his final exams fast approaching. He exclaimed, “I felt like fuckin super man… not only was I able to tackle all my work with ease but I also felt like I could solve the problems of the word.” Its that second aspect the high of the drug that makes adderall very addicting to many. Max continued, “I then started using it to party… I felt so in the zone at the party, I was talking to everyone and was feeling great about life.”

This excess use for many is where doctors and health professionals become real scared for the users health. In a comprehensive study on multiple college campus’ Matthew D. Varga discovered the drugs dark nature. The study found that students who abused adderall were 20 times more likely to use heroin or cocaine once they had built a tolerance. This isn’t the only bad news however, both the short and long term effects can be catastrophic. Short term effects include insomnia, increased heart rate, and reduced circulation. Long term they aren’t any better, it includes hallucinations, psychotic episodes, and even ultimately death. While I mentioned earlier that it takes over 1,000mg to have a medical overdose any more than 70mg for a male 150 pounds is considered dangerous by doctors. Dangerous as in can, along with other factors, induce cardiac arrest and intense mood swings.

Adderall may seem harmless to a majority of students who use it illegal but the fact of the matter is it simply isn’t true. Since abuse is self reported the actual extent of the problem is still not fully known by medical professional and it deeply concerns them. In 2006 in February alone there were 51 deaths due to the over consumption of adderall or similar drugs. That was in 2006 too the numbers of people using illegally has only increased. Since they don’t know the extent of the problem it is hard to target the exact populations for therapy and education.

There are debates about adderall in the medical world today about its actual medical benefits and many believe American doctors are overprescribing it. In anyway we must look to the root of this problem if theres any hope to one day fix it. College culture is a “work hard, play hard” atmosphere. When many students end up playing too hard they look to drugs like adderall to appease the tough demand of their parents. It’s all seems a vicious cycle and something clearly needs to be done to identify this problem on campus’ across America.



Colorado defeated again trying to reenact primary voting system



Asbury Elementary, where voters from the surrounding University of Denver area crowded into the school to vote for their ideal presidential candidate, March 1st, 2016. [Photo taken by Angel Gonzalez]

With the upcoming presidential election in full swing, many states are reevaluating their voting process—Colorado being one of them. Colorado’s’ Primary Participation Act of 2016 has proposed to reenact a primary voting system opposed to the current caucus, but was adjourned May 10th. Continue reading

Death penalty is dying

In depth photo

Graphic courtesy of Jake Pemberton

For the past 17 years, people from across the nation have come together to take part in the annual march to abolish the death penalty, held every October in Texas. The event experiences an annual growth of media coverage, sponsor support, and marchers of diversified backgrounds. Such an event would have been considered taboo pre-20th century, but the national consensus of the hotly debated topic is shifting.

The march is only a small light of the change in discourse of the opinions on capital punishment. Gallup, an organization that collects data on pressing worldwide issues, has an ongoing poll of American death penalty opinions dating back to 1936. The poll exposed that since 1996, 80% of the American population was in favor of the death penalty. However, the percentage has been slowly declining while the amount of people who oppose the punishment is rising.  Continue reading

The “Grey Area” among Journalists’ Investigations


A local Food Lion grocery store. Photo taken by Dan Berthiaume.

25 years ago, journalists from ABC News were sent to go undercover with hidden cameras in Food Lion. Their mission was to reveal the fact that the grocery stores are selling rat-gnawed cheese, and spoiled meat and chicken being washed with bleach, repackaged and given a new sell-by date.

After the report was aired on Primetime Live in November 1992, the Food Lion asserted that their reputation was ruined by this report and has lost almost 2 billion dollars not only in sales but also their stock value. The company sued the ABC News for fraud and trespassing, which the ABC didn’t deny using deceptive methods to gather news but they refused to admit committing fraud and trespassing. The ABC finally lost they law suit and was fined several million dollars, however, they end up with paying nothing to Food Lion.

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Coral reefs are dying out, and coastal communites will go with them


A cruising stingray in the Cayman Islands. Photo shot by Marisa Haag.

Climate change is a complex, vast topic that stirs up mental images of melting ice caps and large factory smokestacks in the minds of many people. The constant ozone alerts, pictures of lonesome and starved polar bears, and videos of glaciers the size of Manhattan dropping off the North Pole are enough to scare anyone, except for the few critics and disbelievers. However, unbeknownst to most, an even more invisible side effect is shaking our world from the oceans up. Coral reefs are dying by the day, indirectly sending the world down a very dangerous path.

“The scale of the pollution of our oceans has become so massive that it needs to be addressed, along with issues such as climate change,” stated University of Denver freshman Caroline Field.

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When the pictures don’t reflect reality: Study shows that most universities use potentially misleading images of diversity


Postcard for D.U.’s Pioneer Leadership Program that depicts a  potentially misleading image of the university’s diversity. [Photo by Donovan Rice]

Every now and then a story surfaces about a university photoshopping a student of color into one of their brochure photographs. For example, the University of Wisconsin received heavy criticism after editing a black student into a cover photo of their admission booklet in 2000. But these cases are relatively uncommon and ignore what some people would like to call a much bigger issue.

Rather than editing students of color into their brochure photographs, many schools intentionally select particular photos that overrepresent these students compared to their actual populations on campus. Continue reading

Presidential hopefuls bombard millennials online


The remaining candidates use social media as a large aspect of their campaigns. [Photo by Chaye Gutierrez]

Thumbing through her Twitter feed, University of Denver student Jackie English scoffs at presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s latest social media tirade–an attack on one of his opponents calling former Secretary Clinton “Crooked Hillary.” For English, this is an almost hourly occurrence as a young voter gearing up to make her decision in the 2016 election by following what she calls the “chaos” online until November. As the candidates take over social media, young people online are left wondering: Why has the 2016 race taken on such a “yuge” social media focus? Continue reading

How Americans are viewing satirical news versus traditional news


A University of Denver student viewing John Oliver’s show for the first time

For decades, news has been created and reported in a very similar fashion all around the world. It has been very effective and informational, but in more recent years people have begun to take satirical news a little more seriously. Although it is still considered “fake news,” there are millions of viewers who take it very seriously.

Satirical news has been on television since about the 1960’s and was mostly aired in Britain. NBC picked up the trend when the started creating shows like Saturday Night Live and Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. Comedy Central has been the most successful when it comes to creating “fake news.” Stephen Colbert’s The Colbert Report, had a very successful 9 year run. The Daily Show with John Stewart also one of the most prominent “fake news” shows in the United States. According to the 2004 National Annenberg Election Survey those who viewed the Daily Show regularly were better informed than those who relied on only traditional news outlets.

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Creating content at an astonishing rate, what it’s like to create content for multiple major media outlets

Sarah Ford, a fairly recent graduate of the University of Denver’s Media Film and Journalism Studies School. Ford, 23, Is the OnTopic Content Manager for in Denver Colorado. In this day and age many media outlets thrive off the “quick and dirty” stories that’s impact on the consumer is minimal but somehow captivating. This is true for both TV and online, articles seemed to be pumped out to fill a slot of interest like pumping gas for your car.

This trend in American media creates a large need for these “quick and dirty” pieces so many companies have come about to fill that need. Companies like, who Ford is employed by, is there to fill that space on the local nightly news or late morning talk shows. Ford admits, “these bit and articles aren’t anything to write home about… they fill a space in a broadcast.”

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Check and protect your melon


photo taken by Sasha Kandrach at Magness Arena

Engaging in an activity that is proven to be detrimental to your health is downright idiotic, in all honesty. One wouldn’t continue to eat fast food everyday knowing the multiple health risks that pose as a potential outcome. One wouldn’t continue smoking knowing 90% of lung cancers are related to cigarette smoking, obviously there are exceptions- plenty of people who choose to ignore the obvious, but why?

While habitually consuming fast food and smoking are two of the more widely known health issues, the same logic applies to concussions; why continue to allow youth and professional athletes to risk mental and cognitive health in order to benefit from their talent at a sport?

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