91 Percent Of My Generation Doesn’t Think Taking Adderall Is Cheating, But I Do

by Alexia LaFata

In college, there's so much pressure on students to succeed at having a perfectly balanced life.

You not only have to get good grades, but you also have to be involved in extracurricular activities, volunteer in service groups, network like crazy, do your laundry and somehow have an active social life.

It can be hard to do well in your classes when you're expected to balance a million things at once.

But instead of admitting to themselves that maybe they need to drop a club or reduce the number of classes they have, our recent Adderall survey findings show 89 percent of respondents admit to taking Adderall to help them out with schoolwork.

Even more so, 67 percent admitted to having taken Adderall before a test.

As much as I sympathize with the plight of the millennial college student to succeed at it all, Adderall is not the answer to keeping up with schoolwork. In fact, I would go so far as to say that taking Adderall to do any kind of schoolwork is, well, cheating.

I'm in the minority here. Our reader survey found that 91 percent of millennials (including those who have taken Adderall before a test and those who haven't) think using Adderall is not cheating.

Our reader survey found that 91 percent of millennials think using Adderall is not cheating.

But I strongly believe that if you're taking Adderall to help you study or take a test, you're putting yourself at an unfair advantage over people like me who busted their ass in school without the help of a drug.

I'm not talking about people who need to take Adderall because they need it to function on a day-to-day basis. Many loved ones in my life have ADD, and they struggle to behave normally or concentrate on anything if they don't take their Adderall (or similar drug) prescription. I sympathize very much with those people.

The fact is, however, that people who need Adderall have different brains than people who don't. Taking Adderall before a test does not give a person with ADD or ADHD an extra superpower boost of focus; it just brings their brains "back up to a level playing field," Scott Kollins, director of the ADHD program at Duke's medical school, told Slate.

In other words, it just makes them normal.

But because people who don't have ADD/ADHD have brains that already function normally, Kollins says Adderall makes their brain power "a little bit higher."

Taking some kind of drug so your brain can get "a little bit higher" is akin to taking a steroid to artificially grow your muscles and improve your athletic performance. And if you can be disqualified from the Olympics for taking steroids, it should, at the very least, be considered cheating if you take Adderall before a test.

If steroids disqualify you from the Olympics, it's cheating to take Adderall before a test.

I understand the appeal of taking Adderall. I was your classic overworked overachiever in college — two majors and a minor, straight As, volunteer groups, leadership positions in extracurricular activities up the asshole. Life would have probably been way easier for me had I accepted my friends' numerous offers to take Adderall to get through busy weeks.

But what's the harm in admitting the limits of your own abilities? Why are we so afraid to say that sometimes, we just... can't do it all?

Allow me to admit something that, to this day, my overachiever self is still deeply embarrassed about: I had to drop my computer science minor in college because the subject material was too hard.

Too hard.

Do you know how much pride I had to sacrifice to say, out loud, for the FIRST TIME EVER, that something school-related was "too hard?"

When it came to computer science, my brain simply could not focus on the tests or compute the problem sets we'd get assigned for homework. Had it not been for the help of my computer science major ex-boyfriend (who's now a software designer at one of the biggest tech powerhouses in the world), I would have easily failed two out of the three classes I took for the minor.

Admitting the limits of my intelligence and concentration stung. It still stings. I'm still bitter and angry at myself that I could not for the life of me get through that fucking minor.

Sometimes I feel like every other thing I've accomplished academically is negated because I failed at literally this one thing.

Now, would I have been able to get through the minor if I taken some Adderall? Maybe.

But what if I had somehow breezed through all the classes and wound up getting some career in computer science? What if I had joined the Women in Computer Science club at my school and spoken at some hack-a-thon about women in STEM fields?

I wouldn't have gotten there on my own, so it wouldn't have felt right.

It would have felt like I cheated.

I wouldn't have gotten there on my own, so it wouldn't have felt right. It would have felt like I cheated.

Instead of taking Adderall to pretend you're good at something you're not, it's way better in the long run to be honest with yourself about the limits of your abilities. Even if it sucks all the pride right out of you.

Not pretending that I could do computer science ultimately made me happier because I was able to focus more on things I was good at, like writing, public speaking, sociology and political science.

So if you're not good at a subject in school, or if you have a hard time focusing on something because it's just too hard or tedious, or if you can't handle all the clubs you signed up for, be real with yourself about what you're capable of and what you're not.

Be self-assured enough to say that you just can't do it, and put your energy toward things you can.

Taking Adderall is not the answer. It's not a bad thing to have strengths and weaknesses. It doesn't make you a bad student, and it doesn't mean you're not smart.

It just makes you human.