Pressure, Perfectionism and Prescription Pills – the Dangerous Reality Looming over College Students Nationwide


The unhealthy culture on college campuses grows more alarming each day. Unrealistic expectations brought on by parents, teachers, and overwhelmingly large workloads create a suffocating pressure to attain perfection. The depths of these effects go largely under the radar – but create a tragic gateway that drives students toward abusing dangerous prescription pills, most commonly Adderall, in order increase brain power, energy and focus – as they yearn to “get ahead.”


Among college students, prescription pills are the third most abused drug on college campuses. Adderall is a category II drug – high in risk for addiction and abuse. The 2016 National Study on Drug Use and Health reported that an estimated 28.6 million Americans aged 12 and older illicitly used prescription pills to study during the month prior. Between 2006 and 2011, Adderall misuse rose 67%, and ER visits due to nonmedical Adderall use increased 156%. The accessibility of Adderall on college campuses is disturbing – with one study reporting that 60% of those with Adderall prescriptions divert it to other students without prescriptions. Serious health effects of Adderall misuse include mood changes, insomnia, irregular heartbeats, lack of appetite, hallucinations, and even heart attacks.


These alarming statistics underscore the unhealthy culture breeding on college campuses, while also highlighting the dangerous reality created by societal, familial, educational and professional expectations- driving students to believe that “perfection” is attainable, and that without it, you won’t achieve success. The complexity of this issue can be casted over a large spectrum – with Adderall abuse stemming from a variation of causes and motives, however it surely can be attributed to the feeling that misusing this drug is the only way to accomplish everything that’s expected of you, while still being able to stay ahead.


The conversation regarding the culture of Adderall abuse needs to be broadened and acknowledged by colleges, parents, and society as a whole – aiming to put forth effort in understanding, identifying, and making positive changes regarding this issue. The correlation between unrealistic performative expectations and the normalization of Adderall abuse on college campuses, and even in high schools, is alarming –calling for the myth of perfectionism to become institutionally dismantled.