Study: Adderall, other attention drugs don't improve grades

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Experts say a growing number of college students are abusing a prescription drug because they think it makes them smarter.

Coffee is just not enough anymore. College kids are turning to so-called "smart pills" at an alarming rate.

You know these pills as Adderall, Ritalin and Vyvanse, all designed to keep those suffering from attention deficit disorder focused and alert. Exactly what some students are looking for when pulling an all-nighter in the library.

"It gave them all energy. Whoever does it and doesn't need it, it is going to speed you up," said a recovering addict, who did not want to give her name.

The only drug she takes now is for attention deficit disorder.

"I have had the Adderall prescription for a long time," she said. "When I was in college and stuff, you know, it would make me stay up and cram. My whole thing was keeping focused. That was the only thing that it helped me do."

Which is what Adderall is supposed to do for someone suffering from ADHD. But for those taking the pills illegally, it may have kept them awake and that's about it.

"It is just like everybody started doing it, that, Ritalin and now Vyvanse is similar," the woman said.

But there is a recent study from Princeton University that suggests there is virtually no evidence the drugs improve grades. The woman who spoke with Eyewitness News says smart pills are extremely popular on campus, she could sell her entire prescription in minutes.

"I could get rid of my whole script in one class period. Gone, probably, or find it," she laughed.

Plus, there is the added factor that she says the pills could lead to a dependency.

"Yeah, it would definitely be a gateway drug, because for most people, when they take it, you know, it gets them going. It causes anxiety and they feel like they need to go and by Xanax or any type of downer to come down," she said. "Because if you take a lot of Adderall, it will keep you up, you can be up for days on Adderall."

The study also suggest the best grades come from students that study early and avoid cramming in the first place.

Some experts say up to 20 percent of all ADHD medicines like Adderall are shared with people who do not have a prescription.