HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Final exams are among many college students this week and with the overload of studying also comes the need to stay awake, sometimes without going to sleep, in order to complete all of the necessary assignments. For David, whose name has been changed for privacy, drugs like Adderall are the answer.
"I got introduced to it [Adderall] like I think most people do- from someone who already used it for the predefined purpose," said David. "I think it was my sophomore year in my undergraduate degree."
David is a graduate student, juggling his studies and a job. Like many others in his position, there aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done, so he turns to "study drugs" to help.
"It kept me awake," he said. "It kept me focused."
David isn't prescribed to Adderall, but his friend is. When it comes crunch time for studying, he gives his friend a call.
"I know it's kind of absurd, but it felt weird to buy it," explained David. "It felt more like I was doing a shady drug deal as opposed to getting a study aide."
In fact it is a drug deal.
"What a lot of people don't understand is if that drug is prescribed for you, and you provide that drug to a friend, a coworker, a family member, even a spouse, you have just committed a felony," explained Steven Maxwell of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.
Adderall is a schedule two controlled substance, which puts it in the same category as cocaine and methamphetamine. Any transfer of the drug can carry up to a 30 year prison sentence and a one million dollar fine for the distributor if convicted. The person who is on the receiving end could face up to a 16 year prison sentence.
"What you have to realize," said Maxwell, "is that the law doesn't distinguish drugs based upon the stigma that society associates with them."
When asked how common Adderall use is among students during final exams, David said, "it's very common."
"Undergraduate was very common," said David. "It's extremely common in graduate school."
But for a student to say the use- and abuse- is "extremely common," why don't we hear more stories about illegal users and distributors being punished?
"It is monitored as close as our resources allow us to and as successful as the partnerships that we have with local, state law enforcement," explained Maxwell.
Maxwell says the MS Bureau of Narcotics has a working relationship with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, as well as the Board of Pharmacy and Board of Medical Licensers. There's also an inter-agency unit that is tasked with focusing on groups and individuals who burglarize independent pharmacies.
"More than anything, we've seen a dramatic increase in the misuse and abuse of pharmaceuticals as a whole," said Maxwell.
As far as David is concerned though, he does not consider himself an abuser.
"I can't bring myself to be worried about it too much when it's an occasional use to better myself, essentially to finish my degree and put myself in a better place in life."