11/20/2010 05:48 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Adderall: A College Student's Friend or Foe?

Anyone who's been a college student in the past decade has probably been exposed to the seemingly magical effects of Adderall. Whether your roommate used it (legitimately) to treat his ADHD, or your best friend bought it so he could pull an all-nighter during exam week, Adderall is without a doubt a prevalent substance on college campuses.

But are the drug's effects in fact as "magical" as they appear? Does it actually help students get ahead in their classes? Is it dangerous?

In an article for Her Campus, Laura Hoxworth grapples with these questions and other issues surrounding Adderall.

It's 3 a.m.
Five pages down, two to go.
Staring at the blinking cursor with glazed eyes, you realize that the effects of your 10 p.m. coffee run are wearing off and you really don't have much else to say about Orientalism in 19th century French artwork. If only you'd spent the past five hours diligently working, instead of checking Facebook every four minutes. If only there were some sort of pill you could take to make yourself sit down and focus like you know you should but just can't seem to actually do.

For an increasing number of college students, there is such a pill. It's called Adderall.

Adderall, a brand of amphetamine-dextroamphetamine, is a stimulant that's generally prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But on college campuses everywhere, students without prescriptions use it as a study drug to increase productivity and focus. A 2005 study from the University of Maryland showed that Adderall is the third most accessible drug on campus, right after alcohol and marijuana.

We've grown up in a world where the solution to most problems comes in capsule form. Add the pressures of college life, and a quick fix is more precious than ever. You pop a couple Advil to make it through your morning lecture after a night out, or swallow a few Dayquil with your coffee to fight the cold that inevitably hits during finals week. Adderall, some believe, is the magic cure to one college ailment that's arguably more prevalent than hangovers or the common cold: procrastination.

Although recreational Adderall use has been around since the drug debuted in the late 90s, research shows that the numbers are steadily on the rise. A 2009 study surveyed more than 3,400 undergraduates and found that 5.4 percent had used ADHD medication recreationally within 6 months. But anecdotal evidence suggests an even higher number - most students interviewed said they guessed that about a quarter of students on their campus had at least experimented with the drug. More recently, Adderall has been popping up in the news in a new context: as a party drug, combined with alcohol to help students drink more and party longer. But for the most part, Adderall and other stimulants are used for studying, not partying.

So why is this drug gaining so much popularity? Are there any real risks of using Adderall without a prescription? And if so many college students rely on it to get through finals week ... what's the big deal?

Read the rest of the article on!