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Adderall usage in college students without prescription

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/9/2013 Category: Education
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,342 times Debate No: 38705
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
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Students who do not have a prescription often use Adderall in order to finish a paper the night before it is due or to study for finals. Not only is this unethical, it also puts people who have ADHD, who actually need Adderall, at a huge disadvantage.


Greetings, I look forward to proceeding with this debate. As this is my first debate on this I ask the audience to please excuse any informality from this side.

I do have some personal experience with the issue at hand as my girlfriend is prescribed Dexedrin, a compound completely, if not virtually, identical to Adderall. Also as I did attend university for some time, Con and I agree that many students certainly do use Adderall to enhance performance.

I would please ask Con to elaborate on the way in which it puts people diagnosed with ADHD at a huge advantage.

I argue that taking Adderall to stay up all night studying for an exam is no less ethical than drinking coffee or taking caffeine pills to do so. And although at first glance I negate your second claim as well, I will wait for you to elaborate before further sculpting my contention.

Cheers and good luck!
Debate Round No. 1


Then we share something in common, as this is my first debate as well.

Well to preface my argument I should start with some background on ADHD and what Adderall does for it. ADHD is essentially a mental condition where a person's frontal cortex does not receive enough dopamine (an important neurotransmitter) to properly function. The frontal cortex is the part of the brain responsible for problem solving, reasoning, critical thinking, etc. Adderall's role in this is to help counteract the dopamine deficiency so that the brain can function as a normal brain would.

Therefore, my argument is that people who use Adderall who do not have ADHD only further enhance their problem solving and thought process to an above average level. Some, such as myself, might equate this to steroid use in professional sports (Although that is a completely different discussion for another time). For people who do have ADHD, Adderall merely negates their condition and puts them on an even playing field with people who do not have the condition. Thus, I must disagree with you when you say that taking Adderall is no less ethical than drinking coffee since you do not need a prescription from a doctor to have a cup of coffee, nor do people drink coffee as a means of treating a mental condition. Also, taking a prescription drug without a prescription is illegal...much unlike drinking coffee. The fact that it is illegal in itself makes the use of Adderall without a prescription unethical.


I would first point out that steroid use in professional sports is controversial and not ubiquitously considered unethical. Secondly, professional sports are naturally competitive where the university classroom is competitive to a much less extent. If one team chooses to use performance-enhancing substances that results in them winning, the other team loses. If a student chooses to use Adderall to study for a test and receives 100% it has no effect on the chances of any other students receiving 100%.

As for my comparison to coffee I will first point out that fatigue is a mental condition, which is why many people drink coffee in the morning. Both caffeine and Adderall are stimulants, and there is evidence that caffeine also affects the dopamine system ( Therefore drinking caffeine enhances mental performance, and by my opponent"s logic consuming caffeine would be unethical unless the consumer was tired and/or suffering from a mental condition in which caffeine would help put them "on an even playing field."

"The fact that it is illegal in itself makes the use of Adderall without a prescription unethical."

Would you say it was unethical to drink alcohol during prohibition? Slavery was once legal, therefore was it ethical before it was abolished? Unfortunately public policy is not always a perfect indicator to the ethicality of an issue.

On top on that my opponent seems to be assuming that everyone with a prescription to Adderall have ADHD. Given the vague criteria for diagnosis, which reportedly leads to frequent over-diagnosis, there are likely many people with an Adderall prescription who do not have ADHD. Is it unethical for these people to use Adderall? (
Debate Round No. 2


To address your first statement I would also like to point out that the use of Adderall without a prescription is also controversial, which is why we are having this debate in the first place. I would also like to disagree with you in your statement that "the university classroom is competitive to a much less extent." Academics are extremely competitive in today's world which is exactly why many students take these drugs so they can get better grades than others. If it weren't so competitive then there would be no incentive to take the drugs and we wouldn't be having this debate.

Also, there are times when one student taking Adderall to take an advantage can be bad for other students. I personally know several people who have taken Adderall for the SAT and ACT in order to get higher scores which is one of the major factors that schools look at when admitting students. Given the amount of people that I alone know who did this and that 20% of students admit to taking Adderall without a prescription, I think it would be safe to assume that there is a large number of students following this same trend. The problem with this is that those who decide not to take it for whatever reason may end up not getting admitted to the same college as the other person because of their test scores.

I also like to say that my opponent's comparison of Adderall to coffee is absurd. I would like to restate that you do not need a prescription to obtain coffee for a reason. Adderall was created for a completely different purpose than coffee. It is a drug that is manufactured specifically for people with a real mental condition. I don't think that feeling tired in the morning can be classified as a mental condition...I have never drank coffee in my life and have never needed to. People who actually have ADHD don't take Adderall because it helps them wake up in the morning they take it because they need it to function normally. Also, coffee affects the dopamine system to a far lesser degree than drugs like Ritalin and Adderall.

As for your argument about prohibition and slavery, my statement that taking Adderall without a prescription is unethical because it is illegal is merely a minor supplement to my argument, not the sole basis. The idea that anything that is illegal is unethical to do is obviously not always the case. The fact that it is illegal is just another reason why it is unethical. In this case, I think it is clear that it should be illegal for anyone without a prescription to take the drug, otherwise what's the use in requiring a prescription. It seems to me, given your previous statements, that you are arguing that anyone should legally be able to get any prescription drug without a prescription?

The fact that it is so easy for many people to acquire a prescription is part of the problem. Yes, it is definitely unethical for people who do not have ADHD to take Adderall since the drug was meant to help people with this mental condition. Lying in order to acquire a prescription for Adderall in order to get better grades is completely unethical, especially if you are using it simply to get an advantage in school because that is obviously not what the drug was intended for. In conclusion, I think the cons far outweigh the pros when it comes to non-prescription usage of Adderall. It requires a prescription for a good reason (albeit with lenient standards--those of which I think should be stricter).

Thank you. I have thoroughly enjoyed our debate.


FellowEarthling forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by NateTheFirst 5 years ago
It's illegal to take it without presciption.
Posted by henrywu 5 years ago
One might argue that some people have a better memory, due to genetics, and cheating (adderal) should be allowed to level the playing field. Personally, I think this is crazy but I wanna see what someone will say.
Posted by FreeThinker39 5 years ago
I too would like to hear your views on how it puts those with ADHD at a disadvantage. Its something I haven't put much thought into, I'd enjoy a perspective
Posted by pensfan 5 years ago
I agree you should need a prescription to use Adderall, but please further explain how its a disadvantage to those with ADHD.
Posted by EatBed 5 years ago
How does it put people with ADHD at a huge disadvantage?
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