A professor’s concerns

Sometimes I worry about you guys. Like when you chase down two NoDozes with a Red Bull at the beginning of class. Or when you come back from spring break in casts.

Recently, in a variety of ways, including Kenneth Caruthers’ article in the Trinitonian, I’ve become aware of the abuse of prescription ADHD medicines by many college students, including some here at Trinity.

Now I’m really worried about you. Taking Adderall if you don’t have ADHD is stupid. Adderall is an amphetamine. It can be addictive. In extreme cases of addiction, its side effects can lead to depression and suicide.

I understand the temptation; believe me. The week some of you first told me about this problem was the week I’d hardly slept, the result of being a working mom, among other things. I was so behind and so tired. It was only for a second, but I””Ms. Never-So-Much-As-Smoked-Pot-Not-Even-Once (that’s Dr. NSMASPNEO to you)””was tempted. I thought, “I want a magic pill too.”

Ever since I got here, I’ve heard how Trinity students want to do it all”” sports, service, work, internships, clubs, partying, double majors””and that they want to get As in their five (or six) classes too.

But maybe you can’t do it all. And maybe you’re not supposed to.

“I need to have all these activities and grades to get into med school or to get a job,” I hear you say. “I need to compete with everyone else.”

First, that’s probably not as true as you think it is. And second, one of the things you’re supposed to learn in college is how to prioritize your time, which is different from “organizing” your time. No amount of time management can help you do the impossible. In college, you’re supposed to discover what you value and how to spend your time accordingly. You’re supposed to learn what activities to drop in order to concentrate on what’s important.

But if you’re popping an illegal stimulant to get by, you can’t learn that. Instead, you learn to value expediency, the use of means that are easy or advantageous, rather than fair or authentic or noble. And, worse, you start believing that you actually are superhuman, that you can do it all.

And we””faculty, administrators, admissions officers, friends, parents, employers””we encourage you in your delusion. Our culture has created a system that rewards the superhuman student””the one with a dozen activities, athletics, a stellar GPA, and community service””without questioning the human cost or authenticity of those achievements. Colleges sell themselves on the promise that you can “˜do it all’ at their school. Coaches bend rules to squeeze in one (or several) extra practices. Friends pressure you into partying instead of studying. Parents call you constantly about grades. Sometimes I think we’re all just as guilty as the person who sold you the pill.

But as much pressure as other people might place on you, you are the only person in control of your schedule and the only person who can look after yourself. If you’re taking Adderall and you don’t have ADHD, you are responsible for that choice. Which means you’re exactly the person who can fix the problem.

Drop an activity or a class. Say no to something. Go out once a week instead of three times a week. Turn off your Xbox and phone. Flush the “study pill” down the toilet.

And if you find you really can’t stop taking the pills, seek help. Counseling Services is a start. Their number is 7411.

Kelly Carlisle is an assistant professor in the department of English.