A month ago, the editorial board condemned Lance Armstrong for his use of performance-enhancing drugs in the Tour de France. This week, The Miami Hurricane unashamedly encouraged its readers to abuse performance-enhancing prescription medications, telling students that it’s okay to take the alleged psychological equivalent of steroids. In doing so, my beloved paper sold its professional image for ratings.
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is a serious psychological malady which has been trivialized by popular culture. There are rules and criteria for the disorder which should not be overlooked, such as vulnerability to distraction, extreme forgetfulness, lack of attentiveness and dislike of activities that require pronounced mental effort. In order for an individual to be diagnosed, these symptoms (and at least two other unlisted criteria) must present themselves in at least two different social settings and cause noticeable impairments over a period of six months.
ADD symptoms are commonly treated with stimulant medications like Adderall, Concerta and Vyvanse, which have side effects as far apart in magnitude as dry mouth and epilepsy-grade seizures. Furthermore, these drugs are amphetamines commonly used in the synthesis of crystal meth. Because of these side effects (as well as the ethical implications surrounding the drugs), I waited years to fill my prescriptions. I was so reluctant that I avoided the subject throughout my undergraduate experience. Though I suffered academically and professionally, I did okay.
Because people abuse these stimulants, there is a nationwide shortage of Adderall, Concerta and Vyvanse. As a result, those of us who actually need the medication must work harder to fill our prescriptions. The prevalence of jacked-up, super students makes it harder for people with ADD to compete (or catch up) in school settings and in the workplace. By promoting cheating and Adderall abuse (or articles by those who do), the Hurricane only complicated its situation.
As an idealist, I believe all people must take responsibility for their ideas, words and actions. As a writer, I believe that journalism must be used to hold society accountable for those things and their consequences. The press exists to spread enlightenment to the masses through the truthful, fair, comprehensive and tasteful analysis of relevant events and issues.
Andrew Blitman is a graduate student at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.