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AMPHETAMINE usage for testing purposes

Discussion in 'Allopathic' started by sethman33, May 2, 2012.

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How often do you use prescription stimulants before taking a test in med school?

Poll closed May 2, 2013.
  1. Never have, never will

    247 vote(s)
    68.0%
  2. Never have, but am highly considering it

    40 vote(s)
    11.0%
  3. I have before, but will probably not do it again

    18 vote(s)
    5.0%
  4. I use them sometimes, especially before really big tests

    28 vote(s)
    7.7%
  5. I use them for almost every exam

    30 vote(s)
    8.3%
  1. sethman33

    sethman33 ATSU-SOMA c/o 2013

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    Med school exams are hard, Shelf Exams are often harder, and the USMLE is an absolutely nerve-racking marathon of a test. I have heard (and noticed) that using ADHD medicines (stimulants) prior to tests is pretty common, even without prescriptions. This is an ANONYMOUS, informal poll to ascertain the percentage of medical students that participate in this practice.

    *Poll Note* - You do not need to actually have a prescription to use a stimulant that is "supposed to be a prescription-only". ;)

    Examples of Prescription Stimulants include (but are not limited to):

    Last edited: May 3, 2012
  2. thedoctor8706

    thedoctor8706

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    Adderall ftw
  3. SoundofSilver

    SoundofSilver

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    I would guess that quite a few med students abuse prescription amphetamines. I have never done so and never will.

    Do I have a problem with med students using those drugs? Not really. Do I think it's unfair? Not really. It's their bodies and minds, not mine.

    In a way, I almost feel bad for the students who need amphetamine to study for a test because: 1) they're not doing it right and probably aren't going to retain the information they're learning long term 2) becoming dependent on amphetamine to perform is just setting yourself up for failure and other problems long term 3) your work ethic probably sucks if you need amphetamine to get you through a day of studying.
  4. link2swim06

    link2swim06 PGY-1

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    For the record none of these drugs make you any bit smarter. It just keeps you awake and focused.

    For the people saying that adderall or X stimulant is bad, unethical, or weak do you drink soda/coffee/energy drinks? Just saying both can be obtained through legal means...as long as you aren't breaking any laws who really cares.

    Assuming you are getting adderall legally it pretty difficult to abuse imo...its schedule 2 meaning you have to physically visit the doctor every month.
  5. aberkovi

    aberkovi Junior Member

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    You forgot to add Starbucks to the list.:D
  6. Ischiowhat

    Ischiowhat

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    People like to think that, but it's not really true at all...if someone can sit and read Robbins or Harrison's 12 hrs/day, and enjoy it, they're going to have a pretty strong understanding of medicine.

    These meds probably do help people learn and retain more knowledge. What's sad is what they do to them socially and emotionally. It makes them into drones. It's not natural to get dopamine from pills instead of healthy activities, relationships, living a normal life, etc. But then again it's not natural to learn this much information either.

    [​IMG]
  7. sanityonleave

    sanityonleave Adrenaline Junkie

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    I've never used prescription stimulants and never will. That said, our class just got finished with Step 1, and I'd say at least 25% of my class got new stimulant scripts for the 6 weeks before Step 1.

    I think it's unethical and tantamount to cheating (analogous to steroid use in professional sports), but I didn't report any of my classmates who admitted to taking (either with or without scripts) them, nor would I. It's one of many ethical debates you'll encounter over the course of life, and one with a significant amount of grey area. Everyone has to make their own choice.

    edit: also, for those of you guys stating "you'll never remember anything!!111", I think that's a crock. I don't have any personal experience, but I can tell you that all of my classmates who took them seemed to benefit from the drugs and seemed to recall most of what they studied. If your only argument against using them is that they don't work, you need to re-examine why you believe taking them is wrong.
  8. sanityonleave

    sanityonleave Adrenaline Junkie

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    I will say that I had one close friend who started taking some variety of stimulant to study for boards, and it dramatically changed their personality. They went from someone who I enjoyed hanging out with and was fun to someone I absolutely could not stand to be around. Fortunately, their personality reverted when they stopped taking the drugs after their boards, but it was a scary first-hand testament to how personality-altering these drugs can be. Not all people experience this, but something to keep in mind -- YMMV.
  9. SoundofSilver

    SoundofSilver

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    When I think of people who use prescription stimulants to study for an exam, I picture them taking a pill and cramming for 12 hours the day before an exam. Then taking the exam and moving on to the next unit. Cramming like that is not going to allow for consolidation of that information into long term memory storage. Space based repetition, the slow and steady approach, is the best way to consolidate information into long term memory. When I think of adderall, I don't think of repetitive, slow steady learning which is why I suggested they might not remember everything. So it isn't the pill that's hindering long term memory formation but rather the studying method that I believe is conducive to stimulant use.

    But then again I've never taken a prescription stimulant, so what do I know.
  10. JackShephard MD

    JackShephard MD

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    Except for the fact that people don't remember stuff unless they use it.

    Give an orthopedic surgeon a biochem exam, they won't do well.

    Everybody crams.
  11. DrSnips

    DrSnips IM PGY-1

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    haha, at this point you could give me a biochem exam and i wouldn't do well, and i used to be a chem major :D
  12. dahwsi

    dahwsi

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    Alright, so why are these drugs by rx only in the first place? Because they are to be used for the appropriate purposes (e.g. in this case for the control of ADHD). So, first off to get your hands on such a medication you have to physically visit a doctor and either lie to them and say you have ADHD which is ethically and morally wrong. Or, tell them the truth and tell them the true purpose which you are going to be using it for, and you are most likely not going to get a prescription. Any other method of obtaining such medications are illegal (e.g. "borrowing" some from a friend) and please correct me if I'm wrong.

    Not to mention, I believe it is cheating and unfair because they are not studying properly as other students do which varies case to case by the method in which they study. I could keep going on and on but ill just also end on the fact that as pre health students we should be wary of the damage that these prescribed medications do to our bodies and if we completely ignore this fact I don't know how we can preach what we say when we don't even do what we will eventually preach :rolleyes:
  13. gators21

    gators21

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    Report them? To who the high horse committee?
    I have an idea, everyone mind your own business. Someone taking adderrall is their personal choice. Has nothing to do with you.
    Cheating hahahahahahahaha. Ok. Cause its not like they had to sit and learn the material too
  14. RandomHero117

    RandomHero117 winning

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    Some people actually take low doses of ADHD meds, just enough to help them stay focused during the day. Other people abuse their medications or have excessive doses, but that doesn't mean everyone who uses ADHD meds is abusing them.
  15. Freakfarm0

    Freakfarm0

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    What's your dosage?

    I think what people are upset about is the fakers who don't actually need the pills to study. They don't have any learning disability. They just take them because it makes studying easier.

    Breaking news: No one likes studying. No one wants to study. No one thinks studying is easy. People are just getting lazier, that's all.

    Also - I wouldn't compare Adderall use in med school to steroid use in baseball. Steroids are very obviously an unfair advantage, and the general public is in agreeance. It's more analagous to chewing tobacco in baseball.

    Should it be illegal? Probably. Will it ever be illegal? Probably not.
  16. link2swim06

    link2swim06 PGY-1

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    Think you are the only pre-health student in the thread...just sayin...

    But whats unfair? I can show you studies showing caffeine (and the alike) improve concentration and focus. I can also show you studies showing prescription stimulants improve concentration and focus. Both are addictive, both have withdrawal.

    Actually one of the first treatments for "focusing" problems is try coffee or something containing caffeine. Then they step you up to something like adderall.

    Finally what exact purpose would you use adderall besides helping you study? If you are using it to concentrate then in fact that is one of the many uses it is prescribed for...
  17. SlickNickMD

    SlickNickMD

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    Caffiene + insomnia + anxiety of not doing my best is all that keeps me focused

    Never tried amphetamines and I never will
  18. valkener

    valkener

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    Having never taken adderall I can't really say how much more it helps than caffeine which usually just lasts an hour. I heard it gives you focus and impulse control whereas with caffeine I am all over the place. Either way, it's unfair because it's not accessible to everyone, that's the difference. If it were legal for everyone to take it would be different. I think there is a toll though, probably emotionally and a slight moral one too. Not that I'm trying to be judgmental here but good old hard work is worth more in the grand picture.
  19. docnotsopc

    docnotsopc

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    according to the poll "70% never have, never will"

    I call bull**** on that. Either poor sample group or people are lying (which im not sure why, its an anonymous thread/poll
  20. CatFactorial

    CatFactorial

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    Your skepticism is admirable.
  21. sanityonleave

    sanityonleave Adrenaline Junkie

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    Many of those I talked to are taking it without a prescription. I would never even think of doing so, but technically that's a) illegal and b) an honor code violation.

    But you missed the point of my post entirely. My point is that it's an ethical grey area, like many other things you will encounter in life and medicine. You have to make your own decision as to what you think is ethical and what is not.

    Clearly, you and I have a different opinion.
  22. sanityonleave

    sanityonleave Adrenaline Junkie

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    Eh, I'd say there aren't a lot of people that argue that taking stimulants does not give you a leg up, at least in the short term. Where the analogy falls apart is that no athletes are getting their steroids legally, whereas I'd say a majority of medical students who are taking stimulants have prescriptions.
  23. thedoctor8706

    thedoctor8706

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    I take 20 mg Adderall twice daily, and I don't follow this method at all. I do try to space out my study and consolidate over time. I was diagnosed with ADHD by multiple doctors (my parents didn't believe in it) and have had it since I was child, but never chose to try medication until medical school because frankly, I didn't need it. Not trying to sound like a complete tool, but undergrad wasn't that hard. I come to med school and all my compensation methods are invalid. I sometimes feel like a crack addict because I hate even taking ibuprofen for a headache, but the Adderall has helped me an incredible amount.

    Not everyone who takes it in med school is just trying to "cheat at life." That said, there are those that do, and that pisses me off as there is an Addrall shortage sweeping the nation d/t all these new ADHD diagnoses that suddenly pop up in one's adult years, or from those stealing/acquiring pills, thus causing the prescribed user to refill more often. Those idiots better not ruin it for those who have a legitimate need. I'm not trying to say I'm "special" or anything, but the difference made for me has been incredible.
  24. danderson

    danderson

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    Hahaha. That is a GREAT picture.
  25. HondoCrouch

    HondoCrouch

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    If they had a sript for it exactly what would you have reported them for?
  26. phltz

    phltz

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    If we really want to make a steroid analogy, it should be to people who actually productively lift heavy object. Let's say it's movers, for the sake of analogy. There is a competitive angle to being a mover, of course. If you're stronger, and therefor better able to maneuver a client's grandmother's heavy china cabinet down the winding stairwell in a controlled manner, you're more likely to get hired than a bunch of wimps. So you're getting a competitive leg up by using steroids. But it's not just a useless arms race. If every mover did steroids, than people's stuff would get moved better, and the population of people who have heavy and bulky stuff to move would be much better served. So there is some wider benefit. Whether or not this benefit is enough to counteract the health costs associated with the side effects of the steroids is an important issue to figure out (and in fact, I think it isn't by a pretty large margin), but in principle if the side effects were small enough and the value of having beefy movers big enough, it could be worth it.

    I think the baseball analogy fails because baseball is a competition for competition's sake. If steroids made every player 20% better, then they'd still all be in the same place with respect to each other, and no one would be better off. A baseball player who uses steroids, then, benefits only because he gets a leg up on the competition, and not because he's any more effective at accomplishing anything of real value. There's no benefit in hitting a ball a few dozen yards further, except insofar as you're hitting it further than your competition. Even if near perfect steroids could be made, that increased strength with almost no adverse health risks, we would still consider them an unfair advantage.

    If a drug helps medical students to learn more, learn faster, learn better, or just spend more time studying and less sleeping, it puts them at a competitive advantage to their peers, but it may also help them learn to be better doctors. And there's a real benefit to having better doctors. If every med student were to take such a drug, then in principle everyone would be better off. The important question becomes, what are the costs or risks of a drug, and how do they compare to the benefits? For some drugs, like caffeine, many people agree that the not-insubstantial benefits far outweigh the relatively innocuous and minor risks, and so we allow, and often even encourage, widespread use. For other drugs, like, say, methamphetamines the potential benefits are far outweighed by the adverse health effects, addictiveness, and potential for abuse, so we discourage their use. In principle, though, if some alternate form of meth could be discovered with a great effect on attention and learning with almost no side effects, we would be fools not to encourage students to use it.
  27. link2swim06

    link2swim06 PGY-1

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    Amen. It is quite interesting what chemicals have been deemed over the counter (caffeine), by prescription (methamphetamines and such), and completely illegal (marijuana in many states). For the most part I think its special interest groups who have caused these distinctions (not science or medicine).
  28. Freakfarm0

    Freakfarm0

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    And then everyone becomes dependent on a drug to learn? What a crock of ****.

    No one is going to become a better doctor because they took adderall before the Step.
  29. phltz

    phltz

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    So you've never had a cup of coffee either while studying or in class?
  30. sanityonleave

    sanityonleave Adrenaline Junkie

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    You make a good point. I actually originally wrote something along those lines in my first post but then edited it -- that if it truly helps you learn more of the material, it might actually be irresponsible vis a vis your future patients not to take the drug.

    That said, in my experience (n=1), I've almost never heard anyone say they were taking adderall or getting a script because they felt that they couldn't learn enough and were afraid they wouldn't be a good doctor (or anything along those lines). Actually, very few of the students who I talked to that took adderall to study for Step 1 were even on the border of failing. Instead, they were all trying to boost their step scores to help make them more competitive for highly competitive specialties (nsgy, plastics). Since I don't believe that step 1 scores correlate at all to future doctoring ability (nor does 90% of the knowledge on step 1), I think you could argue that's much more "competition for competition's sake" -- and that's what these students are trying to get a leg up on.
  31. Freakfarm0

    Freakfarm0

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    I've never tasted coffee and I gave up soda/soft drinks 8 years ago.
  32. phltz

    phltz

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    And now that you're off caffeine, you look down not only on those who do use it, but also on those who suggest that it's ok for others to do so? You sound like a real peach.
  33. drizzt3117

    drizzt3117 chick magnet

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    Lost in this is that stimulants don't help everyone study better. It does help people with ADHD but can make non-ADHD people jumpy and anxious. Also a lot of people take it for other reasons (weight loss, appetite suppression, to get high)
  34. JackShephard MD

    JackShephard MD

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    You're missing out.:)
  35. Freakfarm0

    Freakfarm0

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    Nowhere in any of my posts did I say I look down on people who drink coke or coffee. You asked me a question, I answered honestly.

    I do look down people without legitimate attention problems taking prescription drugs.

    I will take your peach comment as a compliment. Thanks.

    I feel like I am sometimes. I decided a long time ago that I'd start drinking coffee when I actually need it. Which will probably be in a couple of years. Can't wait.
  36. link2swim06

    link2swim06 PGY-1

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    Its all about the setting. Take your average med student never prescribed stimulants, give them a job at McDonalds or put them in an average social setting, its highly likely they will have zero concentration issues.

    The problem is alot of med students have concentration issues relative to the workload/amount of material to be studied. Is this a legitimate problem? In the setting/stage of their life (med school) yes.

    Should they be prescribed? I thinks that all about an individual's situations/needs....but if people are being prescribed stimulants to help them concentrate, and they work (but never had concentration problems up till now) then I don't really see that as a non-legitimate problem.

    Furthermore, I think its highly likely they will be able to get off stimulants when their life doesn't require them to read from a textbook 10 hours a day.


    Personally I think people taking them for a "high" are the ones abusing them. Those getting them to help them for the on-label purpose aren't abuse them (even if the attention problems are only evoked by med school).
  37. sethman33

    sethman33 ATSU-SOMA c/o 2013

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    I don't know how it's a poor sample group. Just about everyone on here is a medical student. And out of the people I actually know (in real life) on sdn, they are from all different geographical and political backgrounds.

    The results surprise me as well, but that's science for you. Your hypothesis may not always be right and you might learn something you weren't expecting to....

    ;)
  38. cbrons

    cbrons love machine

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    I took Adderall XR and later Vyvanse throughout college and graduate school (for a legit purpose). Let me tell you, this stuff does not necessarily give you a leg up. All it will do is give you energy and make you jittery. If your baseline level of anxiety is rather high, I would not suggest taking them. That being said, it gives you energy to study and helps you focus. That's about it. Caffeine can do the same thing. Even better is good sleep hygiene and self-determination.
  39. Green Grass

    Green Grass

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    People are always looking for the easy way out. Everyone at my school that I know abuses these drugs are the gunners and lazy party folk who don't study for weeks after tests and try to cram when it matters. Self-determination and a little pride go a long way...unfortunately, the culture of medical school is changing and not for the better.
  40. RandomHero117

    RandomHero117 winning

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    The culture of med school is changing? How about the culture of the united states? Or of the American medical institution?.. Ya know, the place where it's cool to give four year olds some speed. In my mind, that's a million times worse than medical students taking it. At least people using it in medical school are adults that are responsible for their own health and wellness.
  41. thedoctor8706

    thedoctor8706

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    This kind of effect sounds like someone who should not be taking anything in the first place. For me, Adderall does the exact opposite. It's a calming effect that takes away the jitters. But then again I've had ADHD my entire life haha. It doesn't give me leg up on anybody, but has helped me keep up with the regular crowd. I work just as hard as everyone else, having plenty of drive and self-determination. I just have a hard time with focus, and not just with things like studying, but even watching TV or reading a good book. I have to rewind or go back because I suddenly realize I missed something. But some decent behavioral therapy along with medication has helped immensely.

    So I guess it really frustrates me when others try to obtain medication illegally to cram or get ahead, because it's become such a widespread problem that there are now Adderall shortages. Why ruin it for the few people who have really come by with a benefit?
  42. thedoctor8706

    thedoctor8706

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    And for the record, I agree with this 100%, too many kiddies are medicated because their teachers are too lazy to take care of kids being kids. My parents refused to believe my initial diagnosis anyways, and I saw several different people before accepting a diagnosis. And even after that I didn't use medication until much later in life, just had extra help studying mixed with lots of active play time... Works wonders for kids who can't sit still. Medication should be a last resort, especially for young children.
  43. phltz

    phltz

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    This font size is perfect for this.
  44. greatnt249

    greatnt249

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    I might agree with you if teachers these days were actually allowed to take care of problems in the classroom on their terms. When I was growing up, if I got in trouble at school, I could expect to be in a good amount of trouble at home, too.
  45. Oxer45

    Oxer45

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    Doesn't your med school degree become worthless if you become addicted to meth (amphetamines) and cant function as a doctor? I've seen enough addicts in the ER to know it completely ruins your life. Its just like in high school when the addicts where telling everyone they have control over their addiction, but eventually their addiction took over their life.
  46. link2swim06

    link2swim06 PGY-1

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    Just to remind you there...is a log-based difference between adderall containing amphetamines and meth. Low dose adderall is likely less addictive than smoking and closer to on the scale of caffeine if you take it as directed (taking a drug holidays a few days every week). Plus after you are on it for about 1 month there is zero "high" after you take.
  47. gators21

    gators21

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    What year med student are you? No way anyone with any real clinical experience equates crystal meth use with adderall use for studying with a prescription. Even people without a script would have to take massive doses to get anywhere that close, which would make studying impossible.
  48. Oxer45

    Oxer45

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    4th yr and about to graduate in a few weeks. Methamphetamine has different effect on kids cause their physiology is different than in adults. I'm sure addiction potential in kids is different too. For adults, meth is meth. Its like saying small amount of cocaine wont get you addicted.
  49. link2swim06

    link2swim06 PGY-1

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    Methamphetamine is rarely prescribed. I highly doubt even 1% of med student have a prescription for methamphetamine (desoxyn). Amphetamine (adderall) on the other hand is a much weaker form.

    I am going out on a limb here but beyond Amphetamines being less potent, I bet their efficacy is also much less.
    Last edited: May 9, 2012
  50. DeadCactus

    DeadCactus SDN Lifetime Donor Lifetime Donor

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