Back in March of this year, I went to the movies to see a somewhat decent sci-fi flick, “Limitless.” Because the movie is now on DVD, I can give you a synopsis of the movie’s premise. In the movie, the protagonist, a down-and-out writer and otherwise chronic failure comes face-to-face with a failed drug salesman with criminal affiliations. The salesman gives the loser a pill which magnifies his mental faculties and sensory perceptions a thousand-fold, which turns his life around in a kind of “The Matrix” meets Charlie Brown scenario. Beyond that, you’ll just have to either rent or buy the DVD.
Fast forward to July of this year. In one of my rare days of leisure, I was watching the news when my interest began to focus on a story on NBC’s “The Today Show.” It featured a story about the abuse of the anti-attention deficit disorder prescription drug, Adderall by otherwise normal college students. Apparently, there is a growing trend among some these students, many of them attending top-tier colleges, of taking the drug in an effort to help stimulate concentration and spur the focus needed to successfully study all night.
Watch "The Today Show's" health segment on how college students abuse the drug, Adderall by clicking on the "watch" button.
According to one female student on the “Today Show” segment,
When I’m on Adderall and I’m looking at the textbook I can forget about everything else around me. I figured if everyone else is doing it, why shouldn’t I get the advantage?”
Another male student added, “It’s given me the boost to work non-stop for 10 hours a day…Baseball players take steroids to be the best and students take Adderall to be the best. It’s steroids for school.”
Experts say that Adderall is considered safe when taken as prescribed by a doctor, but can addictive to those using it in non-prescribed ways.
Labeled “the ‘smart pill’” by those using it on college campuses, those who peddle Adderall to those looking for the edge to maintain academic performance sell the pill for as much as $5 for a 25 milligram tablet. In the case of those traditionally cash-strapped students who can’t come up with money for the pill, they are given advice on how to obtain a legally-prescribed dose of the drug for their own use; fake symptoms and go to the nearest doctor.
As I watched the report, my mind started to make connections that this abuse has to other perspectives with regard to issues like affirmative action in higher education, how we rear our children, the quality of students public schools, our collective sense of ethics (or lack thereof), the over-medication of our children, and our collective lack of appreciation for hard work.
Whenever there is talk of race and higher education, preferential treatment for minorities in admission is usually in the forefront. However, the abuse of Adderall by college students at top-tier colleges reveals how irrelevant numbers and standardized test scores can be for some. Remember, these are “the best” according to the numbers. It’s also a reflection of a larger issue…that of those having resources and the ability to via access to manipulate the system in order advance while others are condemned to “follow the rules.”
The abuse of the drug is symptomatic of a serious epidemic of faltering ethics which could be traced directly to parenting. The concept of easy fixes and quick ways out have been lost and supplanted by a win-at-all-cost mentality. We see this in many aspects of contemporary child-rearing. Parents who push their children almost from the womb to excel promote win-win-win thinking by micro-managing many aspects of their children’ lives with the focus on results.
From entering their children in “child pageants” (the worst kind of exploitation) and signing them up for every extra-curricular activity (in the hopes of finding their possible sports “niche”), to hiring college entrance “coaches” who assist in prepackaging young people in an appealing way to as to increase their chances for college admissions (including test coaching) and/or mortgaging their homes to pay for their children’ education, many middle class parents seek to cement their children’s futures at the cost of the latters’ independence and the ability to self-earn their success. Many are impressed with the thinking that money, means and quick fixes are the keys to succeeding; hard work, grit, and intestinal fortitude are the provinces of the less-than-fortunate. The “everybody cheats/bends the rules” ethic in a society of perceived one-upsmanship has become the accepted mantra of those seeking advantage as a result (what about affirmative action for the rest of us without such resources to succeed?).
With instances such as the abuse of Adderall, how we raise (and strip our children of their sense of independence), and how such extreme measures are needed to succeed in college curriculums which are not even as challenging those in other countries, is it any wonder the rest of the world considers Americans to be "soft?"
The ease by which college students can and do abuse Adderall also reveals how quick we are as a society to seek solutions to even the most common and human of afflictions…diverted attention. This is due more to the lack of self-discipline and will that we have avoided instilling in our children, and not a proliferation of ADHD. Quite simply, we have over-medicated out children (and ourselves) where they have come to accept that pills are the answer to our shortcomings.
Americans need to back to the Old School approach to rearing children...an emphasis on hard work, structure, direct involvement in their children’ education, and an occasional visitation from a leather belt worked wonders to create responsible citizens and half-way decent leaders. Overly-liberal, new age ideas about non-punitive, be-your-child’s-friend child-rearing are ruining traditional (and I think proven) methods of parenting. Two-parent households (responsible parents), clearly-defined parent-child roles and expectations, and the aforementioned Old School approaches are the only things that will put our youth back on the path of an appreciation for self-earned, self-generated success.
While Tea Partiers complain about "how our children are going to pay for our current debt," our children are selling off something even more important...their souls and the future basis for what had made America successful in the past!
See Also: "Apr. 09 - A Nation of Whiners."
"May 09 - Faith, Drugs, & Children...Bad Parenting Made Easy."