Columns / Discourse / March 4, 2009

The study drug fix

Before last week’s cover story, many at Knox were unaware that study drugs were present on campus.

I’d like to thank TKS on behalf of Knox Adderall dealers for the free advertising.

Among those unaware, Director of Campus Safety John Schlaf, in an interview with TKS could not recall any instance of illegal study-drug activity on campus. Luckily for Schlaf, there’s a few Knox students who can provide him with a little something mashed up in applesauce that’d be guaranteed to boost his flaky memory.

Don’t take this as an attack on Campus Safety. First, I would never attack any of the Campus Safety staff; they are all bigger than me. Second, I realize illegal “smart-drugs” are simply harder to crack down on than illegal “dumb drugs” (such as alcohol) since the parties at which they take place are so much quieter. Instead of waiting for neighbors to phone-in noise complaints, to crack down on “smart drugs” enforcement officials have to put their ears to the night sky and chase after faint groups of voices listing off memorized digits of pi. No easy task.

Also, unlike “crazy drugs” (heroine, meth, mushrooms, etc), “smart drugs” come to campus legally. Many students taking speed in the form of Ritalin (speed junior), or Piracetam (speed’s uncle), or Provigil (speed’s perky cousin), or Adderall (Speed’s slow and annoying younger brother) are afflicted with something called “ADHD” (or just plain ADD, in case four letters take too much concentration for your jumpy brain to memorize). As much it might make sense to eliminate all “smart drugs” from campus (it would de-crowd the Dean’s list), we have to acknowledge that ADHD is an actual disease…or a disorder… or at least something bad that starts with the letter “D”…. a downer, maybe.

I do not have ADHD myself, although they say the college years are meant for experimentation, so I’m not going to eliminate the future possibility. As a child I was one of the lucky ones. Unlike my afflicted peers, I didn’t fall for the shiny and bright distractions in the classroom, and could always easily focus on being a behavioral problem.

If you have ADHD and I’ve offended you… there is a fascinating plastic bag on your left.

For the rest of you…

With the clarity granted me by my lack of ADHD, I have come to the realization that I don’t have a grasp on this issue at all. So, to truly understand it, I think we should try putting ourselves in other people’s…well… brains.

Enter the student: If it’s two in the morning and you have a test in seven hours on material that looks more like a foreign language than your French homework, and if your parents threaten that if you don’t keep your grades up they’re adopting a college student from China to replace you, is it really so wrong to purchase a little something that will help you to comprehend sentences even longer than this one?

Enter the ADHD sufferer: If without your meds, you’d lack the mental fortitude to finish reading a parag

Enter the drug dealer: If you had a seven-year-old brother with ADHD, would it be so wrong to steal his meds? What does he need them for, I mean, what’s so hard about second grade? If you had extra meds, would it be so wrong to sell them? It’s a better paying job than…say… the C-store. You don’t need work-study, and if you can manage to suppress your moral qualms enough to sell people Twinkies, (which are probably more harmful and addictive), what’s wrong with Adderall?

For most of us, that’s just too much focus on at once. So, I recommend we handle this issue the same way we handle our homework: let the problem build and build until it passes the range of reasonable action. Then, when we’ve nowhere else to turn, turn to the powder in the applesauce.

Ben Lee

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