The most disturbing thing I’ve seen both in an Ivy League library & the Esplanade happened to be a red Solo cup. Not so much the cup, but what was in it. In both cases someone had poured Vodka & sprite into the cup, and rimmed it with ground up Adderall. You heard me. The way a bartender would ring a margarita glass with salt. The concoction was identical but being used in totally opposite ways. One was assisting this girl rocking a tight brown ponytail & sweats cram as much biochemistry into her head as she could without having a panic attack. The latter was a drink of choice for a girl rocking pink camouflage & a unicorn horn at one of the more ostentatious happenings Tuesday night one year. And of course, in non-ground up form, Dextroamphetamine, or as it’s more commonly known these days, Adderall, Adderall XR & Vyvanse, is a heavily abused drug. But before we get to the current epidemic of usage standing watch, passing finals, playing video games competitively or screwing in geodesic dome spokes (and don’t you even pretend to act surprised, we know how you got the camp up in 12hrs), a little bit of history.Back in the 50’s this shit was sold Starbucks-style in some pretty hilarious ways. Remember, this was something prescribed to you to deal with your weight problem or “lethargy.” They did this knowing quite a bit less about how Dextroamphetamine effects your brain (digestible info on that here if you’re interested).
“New life for the living… Dexedrine’s uniquely ‘smooth’ antidepressant effect restores mental altertness and optimism, induces feeling of energy and well-being… Dexedrine has the happy effect of bringing back life for the living.” (1950)
Fast forward a few decades, past DEA scheduling the substance & seeing people develop problems all over. Some estimates say up to 35% of college students are using “diverted” ADHD medication, frequently including Adderall & other prescribed iterations of Dextroamphetamine. The College Life study said 62% of college students were offered some form of Dextroamphetamine (or its weaker cousin, Methylphenidate, aka Ritalin) with half opting to use it at least once. When you think back to Doc Ellis retelling his story of how all of the other players were on amphetamines while he was on LSD, Burning Man production gets thrown into sharp relief. There’s a very interesting harmony that exists at Burning Man, where you can clearly tell who is in “productivity” mode & who is in “don’t give that fucking guy a wrench” mode. What jobs are we better at while intoxicated on psychedelics vs. what jobs are we better at while intoxicated on psychomotor stimulants? A lot popular culture gets at perhaps what those are exactly, but there’s all this pretense & bullshit that maintains that no one is on anything.
Kind of like when Elvis met Nixon in the White House. Not only did the King himself get named a DEA Narcotics agent, but he managed to earn the badge while high on Dexedrine and a pharmacopoeia of other drugs. There are dozens of other famous people I could use to describe the problems associated with Dexedrine. Two examples of note are Pete Townshend, who stated that Dexedrine doesn’t make you wise or poetic in an interview with Rolling Stone & Charles Whitman, the famed “Clock Tower Killer,” who had been prescribed the drug before he went on his notorious killing spree. Even the famed Joan Didon ended up relying on Dexedrine, so let’s never think that the greatest among us can’t fall victim to it. It ended up damaging her relationship with her daughter dearly.
She balanced ill health and short deadlines by drinking gin and hot water to blunt the pain and taking Dexedrine to blunt the gin, which makes for some ravishing reading, but is hardly a prescription for attentive parenting.
To be clear, Vyvanse & Adderall are incredibly effective at treating ADHD, and ADHD is still improperly diagnosed with many children not receiving proper care. However, this brings up a crucial ethical question, which I’ve talked about elsewhere. This is explained masterfully by Joseph Maxwell, but I’ll give the rough example he does to help illustrate the problem (apologies for gross oversimplification for the sake of expediency).
Student X is ‘normal’.
Student Y is diagnosed with ADHD.
On his own, X achieves a 3.2 GPA.
On his own, Y is only capable of achieving a 2.5 GPA, clearly less than X.
However, since he is prescribed to Adderall, Y is able to achieve a 3.5 GPA.
If X had access to Adderall, he could have achieved a 3.8 GPA
It is clear that Y ultimately out-performs X because of the Adderall boost.
~Populi Magazine, Joseph Maxwell
Is this cheating? Do we care? Are we all good with dosing our laborers (electronic or physical) with stimulants just to get the job done? Let us know what you think in the comments & join Ravelrie, Stay Safe Seattle & NY DanceSafe on Twitter using #SpeedFF at 1:30p PST to argue about it!