Adderall, aka the study drug, is a slow-release form of amphetamine used to treat attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Dubbed “speed” on the black market, the drug is a chemical cousin of methamphetamine that changes hands on American college campuses like a 30-pack of Natural Ice. It’s the currency of achievement that’s relied upon by students and academics alike who refuse to accept the cognitive limitations of Brain 1.0.
A 2008 study by the Journal of American College Health found that 34 percent of non-ADHD students surveyed at an undisclosed public university used prescription stimulants for cognitive enhancement. For these students, Adderall is a mental rocket booster that can beget Tesla CEO Elon Musk levels of productivity — or induce depression, anxiety and psychosis. The drug is a $3,000 court case or a 7-year prison sentence for anyone convicted of illegal possession. Most of all, Adderall is a lot of responsibility for an 18-year-old.
When it comes to the rightfully prescribed, the drug can be a godsend. For thousands of high-achieving college freshmen who receive a diagnosis and get the golden script when they arrive on campus, the drug means a saved academic career.
Those users tell Vox about the hyper-focus the drug induces and their ability to memorize vast amounts of information. They discuss the nicotine cravings and the energy crashes that follow the surges. The experience for a non-ADHD student trying Addy for the first time is not hard to imagine — and that’s exactly what we did.
You’re lying face-down on the pillow, while breathing in the sweaty aroma of the Egyptian cotton sheets you’ve neglected to wash all semester (Who has the quarters for that, anyway?). It’s all you can do to forget for a minute that you’re screwed.
Fueled by guilt and anxiety, you strain yourself out of the bunk and crack open your college algebra book. It’s finals week of your first semester at MU. You haven’t been to class since the midterm, and your current 70.5 percent will be for nothing if you fail the final. But you can’t fail. Your scholarship will dry up if your GPA drops below 3.0. But how can your professors expect you to meekly sit, chained to this arithmetic, and summon a state of unbridled focus on a topic you’ll seldom use again? The anxiety is too much, so you retreat to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram — anything to distract you from your impending doom. You just can’t focus.
Your roommate has an Adderall prescription. You told yourself that you’d never touch the stuff, but it’s becoming all-too-apparent the drug is your only way out. He left a 20-milligram instant release capsule on your nightstand when he found out how out of luck you are, and it beckons you like the last unclaimed donut in the box.
At 9:07 p.m., you pop the pill. And so it begins.
“I’m going to say this is an epidemic,” says Robert Kline, a psychologist in Columbia who tests for ADHD. “I have to be careful of that word, but it reminds me of the progression we had with Vicodin and painkillers.”
Adderall, the most popular brand of amphetamine treatment for ADHD, hit the market in 1994, but Americans are no strangers to the base drug. Romanian chemist Lazar Edeleanu first synthesized amphetamine in 1887, and pharmaceutical use began with Benzedrine in the 1920s as a treatment for asthma and nasal congestion. Benzedrine, Dexedrine and Biphetamine quickly rose to prominence as treatments for conditions such as narcolepsy, depression, compulsive overeating and more.
By the Great Depression, early pharmaceutical companies such as Smith Kline and French Laboratories began marketing amphetamines as a general happy pill. In 1939, Harvard professor Abraham Myerson wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine that Benzedrine Sulfate was a viable cure for narcosis induced by other drugs, and SKF ads claimed its amphetamine restored “optimism, cheerfulness and sense of well-being.” Psychiatrist Charles Bradley experimented with Benzedrine salts and found them useful for subduing “problem children.” His studies helped shape modern understandings of children with behavior disorders, according to a paper published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine in 2011. SKF churned out 1 million tablets per day by 1945.
The contemporary form of Benzedrine sulfate is still used to treat those “problem children.” Tyler , a 21-year-old MU student with long blond locks and rail-thin, skater looks was one of those children, though he did not end up taking prescribed drugs until this past month. His undiagnosed grade-school hyperactivity led him to throw Gatorade bottles out the window of his school bus and generally disrupt his classes at Francis Campanelli Elementary in Schaumburg, Illinois.
“We were playing this math game, and I hated math, so I decided not to participate,” Schneider says. “So I just went under my teacher’s desk and sat there. I guess I was in third grade. My mom told me that a social worker had been in class and that I had ADHD.”
Schneider’s mother, Colleen, was skeptical of the suggested drugs for her son and worried they would change his unique demeanor and personality. “She worded it in a way a kid could understand,” he says. “My mom just didn’t want me to be on that type of drug, so I never ended up getting any.”
But Rob Fox, a 30-year-old MU alumni who is now a senior writer at Greek lifestyle website Total Frat Move, got the meds at the end of eighth grade. “The only kids I knew who were on ADD medicine were kind of oddball kids, which is what freaked me out so much when I got prescribed,” Fox says. “I was like, ‘Am I weird like these kids?’”
Scroll over the photo to learn what happens if the police find you with Adderall.
You’ll always remember where you were when the Addy hit for the first time. While sprawled out on the couch of your dorm room, aimlessly scrolling through Facebook, the neurotransmitters, dopamine and norepinephrine, lie dormant. They’re the organic chemicals of focus, and they lazily stroll up to their receptors like they’re in line at the DMV. But when the Addy reaches the brain, dopamine and norepinephrine break into a cranial shuttle run between the receptors. The result: Pure energy courses through your veins. Game on.
You close your laptop and hit the books. This focus, this power, this magic should be illegal. (It is.) But you don’t care. You care more about college algebra than you will your first-born child. You assemble your textbook, notebook, graphing calculator and tin of Copenhagen Wintergreen chewing tobacco — which you’ve all but successfully kicked, but damn if you don’t need something to occupy this sudden oral fixation — in a neat formation on your desk and set about the task of learning math. Enjoying math. Enjoying this all-encompassing warm and tingly sensation that reaches from your forehead to your toes. What is this black magic in the orange pill?
By 1962, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimated big pharmaceutical companies were producing 8 billion pills of amphetamines for U.S. consumption each year. Decades earlier, Americans had demanded speed, and they got it. Benzedrine inhalers promised 10-hour appetite curbs and mood improvements. Jack Kerouac swore by the drug because it helped his prose, and in the song “Mother’s Little Helper,” the Rolling Stones waxed rock ‘n’ roll poetic on the drug’s popularity among Cold War housewives. While on deadline to finish Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72, Hunter S. Thompson said he took “enough speed to alter the outcome of six Super Bowls.”
In 1955, the FDA approved Ritalin, or methylphenidate, which is still used today. The drug is similar to Adderall, except it takes effect and reaches peak performance more quickly. Benzedrine wasn’t even a prescription drug until 1959, but by then, it had already gone out of style. A 2012 article in The Atlantic pointed out that Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and Miles Davis’ Birth of the Cool both came out in 1957. Kerouac’s “bennies” looked tired and conventional compared to Davis’ flashy, white-nosed cocaine habit.
Big pharma’s bigger problem was the 1971 Controlled Substances Act, which federally regulated all amphetamines as class II controlled substances. General well-being became an obsolete rationale for prescription-grade stimulants. That caused SKF to refocus and modify Benzedrine to Benzedrex, a $7.29 over-the-counter inhaler that’s still used for the same ailment Benzedrine was originally designed to treat: nasal congestion. Some people still abuse the inhalers to get high.
However, in 1987, the American Psychiatric Association finally codified ADHD in the third version of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders. Suddenly, a legitimate medical need for amphetamines roared back to life.
Only 5 percent of American children have ADHD, according to the APA. But a study by the National Survey of Children’s Health found a 7.8 percent diagnosis rate in 2003. The group did the study again in 2007 with a result of 9.5 percent. In 2011, 11 percent.
“This is a concoction to justify the giving out of medication at unprecedented and unjustifiable levels,” Keith Conners, a psychologist at Duke University, told The New York Times in a 2013 article.
The thing is, Adderall is too big to fail. It was created in 1994 by pharmaceutical executive Roger Griggs, who sold the company to Shire Pharmaceuticals for $186 million in 1997. Meanwhile, stimulant medications generated nearly $9 billion in revenue by 2012, according to The New York Times. Like Manhattan Project leader Robert Oppenheimer, Griggs never imagined the potential for destruction in his genius.
“You’re talking about a product that’s having a major impact on brain chemistry,” Griggs told the Times. “Parents are very susceptible to this type of stuff. There’s no way on God’s green earth we would ever promote (stimulants directly to consumers).”
But that’s exactly what Shire did. In 2011, Shire paid Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine for ads in which he tells his hyperactive brethren: “It’s your ADHD. Own it.” In 2008, the company ran fear-mongering magazine ads that read, “Adults with ADHD were almost 2 times more likely to be DIVORCED.” That same year, TV host and paid Shire spokesman Ty Pennington made a pro-Adderall YouTube video that was so egregiously false that the FDA told consumers to ignore it.
Messages such as these contribute to the most telling statistic of all: a 93-percent increase in prescription stimulant use from 1993 to 2005, according to The Clinton Foundation, an organization that works to reduce the prevalence of preventable disease — which includes Adderall but also opioids such as Vicodin and Oxycontin — in the United States.
Last year, a comment from U.S. Supreme Court Justice and former Dean of Harvard Law School Elena Kagan expressed her view on the pervasiveness of non-prescribed Adderall use on American college campuses during a case against a former MU mathematics professor. (See page 12.)
“He had four pills of Adderall,” Kagan told the court. “If you go to half the colleges in America and just randomly pick somebody, there would be a decent chance (they would have Adderall).”
Those in the courtroom laughed. Adderall is so trivial that the highest court in the land couldn’t take it seriously. So why should we?
You might actually pull this off, by God. Radical expressions, non-linear functions, logarithmic equations: They’re all becoming second nature. The puzzle pieces fall into place. You gain impeccable posture, your pupils dilate, and you feel a warm and comforting sensation. The evils of the world affect only mortals (which you are not), and the possibilities of the galaxy swaddle you like a baby’s blanket.
Body stationary, heart racing, mind sprinting, you get up for nothing but an ever-present need to pee from the compulsion to guzzle water. (Your roommate said this might happen). Dinner skipped, hunger abolished, mouth occupied with alternating gobs of fruity chewing gum and minty tobacco. Involuntary head-nodding to the latest Kanye album blaring through your MacBook speakers as you deeply consider how misunderstood Yeezy is as an artist.
Strength, too — You could just as easily return a kick clear through the Denver Broncos’ suicide squad as you could learn this arithmetic. Quick break to text anyone who’s still up. You feel like quite the socialite.
One carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms are all that separate Adderall from methamphetamine. That chemical group (attached to the latter combination) expedites absorption to the brain and makes the chemical distinction between the study drug and the main ingredient in Walter White’s crystal meth recipe.
“You’re feeling tired; you’re feeling sad — Smoke methamphetamine. Fifteen seconds later, you’re feeling good,” says Dennis Miller, an MU neuroscientist who studies stimulant addiction by testing various amphetamines on laboratory mice. “And the person learns about that association, smoking on that crank and feeling good.” Amphetamines are designed to slow that dopamine release by two to four hours, thus limiting addiction liability.
But the liability persists in amphetamine, and if you want to see what that looks like, watch one of Miller’s research mice press the lever that dispenses the speed and figuratively run a 5K in 20 minutes. The affected mice will commonly press the amphetamine lever many times before they press the food lever — until they’re so hungry that they must choose nourishment.
“So the first time I ever took an Adderall, it was like pure energy coursing through my body,” says Fox, the senior writer at Total Frat Move. “I felt completely awake, more engaging. I even felt sharper to an extent. My body developed a tolerance to it very quickly. Within the first semester of my freshman year of college, I was getting used to the medicine.”
When Fox and two of his fraternity brothers needed to memorize the fraternity preamble the night before their final pledge examination, he gave them Adderall to facilitate a hyper-cramming session.
“I remember them both being like, ‘Holy shit. Like what is this?’” he says. “And they were like, ‘I can study everything!’ And they all passed their pledge tests.”
Heroin addicts can wean their dependence with methadone and naltrexone, but there’s no treatment for stimulant addicts. Miller is working to develop such a treatment by testing chemicals that activate the brain’s sigma receptors. When occupied, the receptors decrease dependence on cocaine, methamphetamine and amphetamine.
The cause of amphetamine addiction stems from a pulsating dopamine release, akin to smoking a cigarette or eating a sandwich. Any time a behavior such as eating, nicotine intake or sexual arousal releases dopamine, the brain catalogues that reaction and remembers to crave it again.
“At some point, probably about five minutes after the Adderall kicks in, the user will have the unstoppable urge to abuse their tobacco product of choice,” Fox says in a personal essay on TFM. “Notice I did not write ‘use,’ I wrote ‘abuse.’ There is no moderation on Adderall.”
The substance-abuse urge is intrinsically linked to the brain’s pleasure chemical of choice: dopamine.
“What these drugs do is hijack that really useful system our brain has,” Miller says. Although a McDouble on an empty stomach might increase dopamine by 10 percent, a hit of methamphetamine might increase it by 150 percent, and that release can still leave users hooked.
“I don’t want to be alarming,” Miller says. “But when someone takes Adderall as recommended by a physician, there is an abuse liability.”
Schneider says the highs and lows can be tricky to navigate. “You know that there’s that come down coming, and you almost dread it because you don’t know what to do with yourself when it comes,” he says. “It’s not despair or sadness; it’s more so just everyday life gets a little bit more mundane, and that’s kind of a scary thought.”
Adderall is designed to bring ADHD users’ dopamine levels up to normal, but for non-ADHD users, it supercharges normal dopamine levels in a way that is similar to meth, which most Adderall abusers would never consider taking.
Dopamine peaks. Peripherals disappear as tunnel vision connects you and your notebook. Archimedes himself couldn’t hope to keep up with the supercomputer between your ears, and you’re tearing through the study guide like you actually went to class.
You wish you had someone to talk to. On Yik Yak, your university brethren hail the highs of Addy. On Erodr, “Anonymous Males” and “Anonymous Females” make posts that read: “I’ve got a couple of tests this week, and I’m trying to find some study aids. Who can help?” Suckers.
You’ve been tapped for the secret society of the accomplished, hard-working individuals who gamed the system and won.
You feel a twinge of anxiety between non-rigid function transformations, but your TI-84 calculator beckons, and you return to number crunching. Number smashing. Number obliterating! You master these numbers. You master the universe.
This one-and-done focus session is too good. You do, after all, struggle to concentrate on a lot of things that bore you. Maybe you have ADHD. Wouldn’t that be the golden ticket? Maybe you’ll look into that.
“Generally, I trust people,” says Kline, the psychologist and ADHD-diagnoser. “In this population, I’ve learned to not trust as much.”
Time, money and, of course, the legitimate presence of ADHD are the limiting factors for any MU student looking for a prescription of their own. Without a previous diagnosis, he or she starts with a psychologist like Kline, whose springy hair, SpongeBob and Scooby-Doo neckties and children’s-toy-adorned pediatric psychiatry office is more cartoonish than clinical. The university requires a deeper level of scrutiny than private physicians, and Kline obliges students with more rigorous testing.
They will sit among the games and puzzles and visit with the gregarious Kline four or five times, and he’ll spend five or six hours of face time reviewing their symptoms, past medical histories and personalities. He will look for overlapping symptoms of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, bipolar depression, ADD and obsessive-compulsive disorder. He will do brain scans, paper-and-pencil tests and drug tests to ensure they aren’t chasing Adderall with other controlled substances. Would-be scammers usually quit at the drug test. “I hate to say, but about half the folks that come into my clinic, I never see again,” Kline says.
Although he is suspicious, he knows that longer, focus-intensive college courses often cause the discovery of undiagnosed ADHD in young adulthood. High school’s multiple periods, segmented standardized tests and frequent mental checkpoints are manageable with ADHD. But those undiagnosed high school achievers can still get blindsided by the disorder in college once longer attention spans are required.
“The university goes, ‘How can you score a 32 or 33 on your ACT and have ADHD?’” Kline says. “Well (the education system says), you can’t.”
Without taking his prescribed medication, Schneider showed promise in class: He self-published a magazine about skateboarding and music in the fourth grade for fun, and he scored a 28 on his ACT (even with a 19 on the math section, which he failed to finish due to hyperactivity). But his focus lagged in college, and he barely missed the 3.0 GPA requirement to enter the journalism school.
“That was kind of difficult to cope with,” he says. “It was certainly frustrating because I didn’t even think that I had ADHD. I just blamed my own effort.”
When Schneider did finally see a psychologist, he took a 50-question test regarding his ability to focus. “It’s almost like I knew that every question was me to a T,” he says. “The things that I had always attributed to be part of my personality might actually be caused by a disorder instead.”
But the sheer act of downing an Adderall does not equal productivity. “Adderall is like a study weapon,” Fox says. “It’s like a gun, but you still have to aim it right. You could miss. You could hit the wrong thing.”
Sophomore year Fox wrote a 50-page movie script from midnight to 5 a.m. “I couldn’t keep up with my own mind, and I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is amazing!’” he says. “And then I read it the next day. It was the worst thing I’ve ever written in my life.”
When the psychologist is satisfied with such testing, he or she will write a six-page opinion (required by MU) about the patient and send it off to a psychiatrist such as Dr. John Hall at MU Student Health. Hall reads the opinion and spends another hour with the patient before making a decision. He will refer to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, which employs a 1–5 scale to rate experiences such as “difficulty maintaining focus over a period of time,” “forgetting things easily” and “seeming like you’re not listening.” Even a squeaky-clean ADHD diagnosis by psychologist Kline requires another level of scrutiny.
“People can be pretty good liars,” Hall says. “I don’t have any doubt about that. I do think that there’s a level of commitment when we keep working on it together.”
An initial 30-day prescription is written only when the psychologist and the psychiatrist are both satisfied with the diagnosis.
“To my mind, when I give you a script for Adderall, it’s a contract between you and me, and it’s a contract that faces the state of Missouri,” Hall says. “We both have a responsibility to the state of Missouri for the way it’s handled.”
That includes not giving it away to roommates who need to master college algebra during one all-nighter.
Prescription drugs seized in Missouri by the Narcotics Vice Unit
Between 2014 and 2015, the number of total prescription drug confiscations decreased by 1.3 percent from 9,464 to 9,201, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Adderall confiscations decreased by 1.2 percent from 201 to 165.
THESE NUMBERS COMPARE TO:
202,492 cocaine confiscations in 2014
1,330,065 marijuana confiscations in 2014
90,961 methamphetamine confiscations in 2014
Missouri methamphetamine by the numbers
The number of drug-related hospital admissions involved the presence of meth and/or amphetamines in 2010
The number of all state-supported mental-health patients that are admitted for illicit drug addiction to meth and amphetamines
The number of Missouri high schoolers that have used methamphetamines at least one or more times
The crash begins. The Adderall has given your brain all the dopamine and focus it has to offer, and happy pills induce a markedly sad conclusion. The Adderall hangover, they call it. It’s not as kind as a traditional boozy hangover because rather than sedation, you’re still acutely aware of how run down you’re beginning to feel. It’s like somebody switched your “on” button and forgot to turn you off, so you keep running on fumes until your engine sputters to a stop.
You avert an empty gaze away from the numbers and letters and parentheses and equations because screw ’em. But you press on anyway because there’s no way you’re sleeping tonight. Now, your mind starts to wander: What if you fail, lose your scholarship and descend into a lavish life of flipping burgers at McDonald’s until Social Security kicks in, and you die alone in a sweaty mobile home? The catalysts of anxiety grow like weeds.
2:01 a.m. Flipping between browser windows, you admire the beige paint on the wall.
2:02 a.m. Rubbing your palm against your forehead. A cold, tingly sensation runs through your body similar to when your foot falls asleep. As if invisible ants are crawling all over your skin.
2:03 a.m. The universe masters you. Reverting to the lowly state of a mortal definitely sucks.
Just like the Benzedrine-Sulfate-inhaling Cold War housewives of the 1950s and 1960s, most students will survive their collegiate amphetamine phases to pass on their genes without contracting a crippling psychological addiction. But even for legal users like Fox, the crash hits hard.
“I was depressed pretty badly like halfway through high school, and a lot of that — all of that — had to do with Adderall,” Fox says. “You go high-low-high-low-high-low. I always told people, ‘You don’t want to be on this. It sucks to have to take this every day.’”
The crash can be even worse for less-experienced users. “I had a guy come in, saw him once, didn’t know he had ADHD,” Kline says. “He got five or six Adderall, took them all at once. He ended up in the hospital. He became mildly psychotic because of it.”
The problem with using Adderall without a careful ADHD diagnosis is the potential for compounding symptoms of existing conditions, such as anxiety and depression. In 2011, The New York Times chronicled the story of Richard Fee, a popular, athletic 24-year-old medical student from Virginia Beach who was prescribed Adderall for 90 days. Fee’s parents saw a dark change in his demeanor and urged his doctor to end the prescription. Two weeks after the prescription ran out, his depression overcame him, and he committed suicide.
The Fee family sued Shire Pharmaceuticals for wrongful death and settled for $2 million. It is scarcely the first time Shire has been to court. In 2007, the company paid out $56.5 million to resolve civil allegations that violated the False Claims Act. The company claimed that Adderall XR (extended release) would “normalize” users — making them cognitive equals to non-ADHD peers — among other claims that the drug “prevented poor academic performance, loss of employment, criminal behavior, traffic accidents and sexually transmitted disease.” In fact, the FDA has accused all of the major ADHD drug companies of false advertising since 2000, according to the Times.
For Shire and its $9 billion industry, $56 million is a minor annoyance, but for any individual caught with pills sans prescription, the consequences are severe. Adderall is a schedule II controlled substance, which means a felony charge for wayward 18-plus-year-olds with happy pills in their back pockets.
“When people knew I had an Adderall prescription, I got quite a few calls and texts about it,” Fox says. “I mean, enough that I could sell out my whole bottle.”
A member of Kappa Alpha Theta once offered him $150 for his entire bottle, he writes on TFM.
“Sometimes, I think that students don’t completely understand that it is a felony, which is punishable by up to seven years in prison,” says Stephanie Morrell, Boone County’s assistant prosecuting attorney.
When a freshman signs a housing contract, he or she forfeits the right to deny a search by MUPD. So when a hall coordinator becomes aware of unsanctioned Adderall in a dorm, the cops can let themselves in. Just as a waddle of Antarctic penguins nudges one unlucky soul into the ocean as sacrifice to the killer whales, a handful of MU students will be pushed into the hands of the MUPD each semester.
Local attorney Mike Hamilton says that students will often try to pass the Adderall off on a roommate with a prescription. If that doesn’t work and if the attorney can’t get the case thrown out on a wrongful search, the best-case scenario is usually a reduced charge from felony to misdemeanor, a deferred prosecution or a suspended imposition of sentence. In the latter case, the defendant pleads guilty, but the sentence is never executed, and he or she enters a five-year probation period — two and a half years if the defendant doesn’t violate probation. Anyone searching his or her permanent public record sees the conviction only until the probation period ends, but it stays on the closed record, so he or she will probably never get a job working with children or the elderly regardless.
Hamilton charges about $1,500 to take an Adderall case but will do it more cheaply for financially independent students. Local attorney Adam Dowling charges $3,000 to $5,000 if the case goes to trial. Fellow attorney Dan Viets wouldn’t give a number but says it’s in that range.
For those students who can’t afford their own private attorney, the court appoints a public defender or a court-appointed private attorney. Morrell says that, objectively, defenders provide the exact same services as private attorneys. But a market probably wouldn’t exist for private attorneys if there weren’t a difference. Of the MU students whose arrest records were pulled for this story (but not published), all chose to hire their own legal counsel rather than adopt a public defender or court-appointed private attorney.
So two and a half years and several thousand dollars later, the felony charge essentially goes away. Under a suspended imposition of sentence probation, no conviction is levied, and the court retains the right to impose any sentence within the full statutory range of punishment if the defendant is convicted of another felony. But The Maneater and Columbia Daily Tribune will likely publish the defendant’s name in the police blotter, so unless the defender’s name is John Smith, the arrest might as well be trending on Twitter. Bottom line: An Addy arrest is sticking with you.
Salvador Dalí said, “I don’t do drugs; I am drugs.”
You did drugs, you were drugs, and now that you are no longer drugs, you kind of miss being drugs. You mastered the universe and became a mathematical deity, but now all you can do is retreat to your bunk bed and sink into the pillow. Archimedes is laughing at you.
The kicker is, you still can’t sleep. You’re going to zombie-stumble your way into that lecture hall in four hours and pray that the math gods take mercy on your soul. You learned a lot, sure, but you’re so drained that you’d sooner regurgitate your own stomach than regurgitate quadratic equations.
It’s a double-edged sword, Adderall. On one hand, there’s no way you could have stayed up and mastered the universe without it, nor could you afford to fail, so you really had no choice (save actually going to class and being responsible for your education).
The minutes drag on — still no sleep. You just lie there, cold and tingly all over, wishing you could drift off for a few hours before the big show. It’s no use.
With your eyes wide open, you focus on the room around you. Focus on the drone of the central air conditioning, focus on the rays of daybreak peeking through the blinds, focus on your pillow. You run your fingers across the pillowcase and try to count the individual threads. One. Two. Three.
Four hundred. You finally pass out, thinking about stinky Egyptian cotton.
How a former MU professor landed at the feet of the Supreme Court
Moones Mellouli was deported for having speed in his sock.
In 2010, Mellouli was arrested in Kansas on a DWI offense while working at MU as a mathematics professor. When Kansas police searched Mellouli, they found four orange Adderall pills in his sock. In lieu of a felony conviction, the Kansas authorities dropped his charge to a misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. But U.S. Code 1227 states that immigrants who are convicted of violating any law relating to a controlled substance can be deported.
So Mellouli was booted back to Tunisia. But in 2014, the University of Minnesota’s Center for New Americans, the A-Team of pro-bono immigration counsels, appealed Mellouli’s deportation on the basis that the paraphernalia charge was nonsense. Last September, the U.S. Supreme Court took the case.
Mellouli’s 2015 Supreme Court case suggests that Adderall’s felony status might be too harsh in a contemporary setting because nobody enforced the law he broke.
“Paraphernalia offenses are generally extremely minor offenses — They’re not felonies,” Justice Elena Kagan said during the oral arguments during Mellouli v. Lynch. Prosecutors use these misdemeanors “when they don’t want to charge a more serious offense.”
The problem with the drug paraphernalia charge is that Mellouli was never formally convicted for the Adderall because, as Chief Justice John Roberts pointed out, the Kansas cops didn’t enforce the law.
“If it’s not such a big deal that the state is willing to let him cop a plea to drug paraphernalia,” Roberts says, “why should it be the basis for deportation?”
A drug paraphernalia charge requires the presence of a controlled substance, and the arrest record merely identifies four unidentified orange tablets with no actual Adderall reference. The court subsequently sided with Mellouli 7–2, and his legal team says the he plans to return to the United States.
So the Kansas authorities didn’t convict Mellouli on Adderall possession, and the Supreme Court didn’t consider Adderall in the same vein as cocaine. But in eyes of the law, they’re still identical.