Students are taking prescription drugs — without a prescription — to improve their SAT scores, reports the Wall Street Journal. Stimulants prescribed for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, such as Adderall and Ritalin, are popular choices.
Amphetamines act on the brain by mimicking the neurotransmitter dopamine, which increases alertness and concentration. Studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health in the late 1970s found that low-dose stimulants increase concentration and alertness in everyone, not just people with attention disorders.
Side effects of Adderall can include loss of appetite, insomnia and weight loss.
But it takes more than one pill.
So many young people have ADHD diagnoses — “prescriptions for stimulants have risen to 2.6 million a month in 2004, from 1.6 million in 2000” — that it’s easy for students to get pills from friends.