If you've been to college in the last decade—or if you've seen a college, or know of a college, or read the New York Times—then you're aware of the depths of our universities' Adderall addiction. Other than caffeine, alcohol, and MAYBE marijuana, it's the most commonly seen drug on campus. It's, abuse it or not, a part of collegiate life.
I have a complicated relationship with Adderall. On the one hand, I think it's more rampant at schools than even worrying parents and administrators fantasize. You read their heavy-handed moralizing in the papers about how addictive it is, how it creates an unfair edge, and how prescription-less users should be tested before exams, and you can't help but see the parallels between the arguments against study drugs and the sanctimonious arguments against, say, keeping Mark McGwire out of Cooperstown.
The reasoning behind McGwire and chem-major Jill choosing to take a drug is incredibly similar. Steroid-abusers in the 90s were not necessarily motivated by their own personal quests for glory. They were trying to keep up with their peers. That same competitive drive causes many college freshmen to buy pills from their ADHD-afflicted friends. It's tough to really judge either party for their decisions. And baseball writers and school administrators should work around this new reality.
On the other hand, Adderall doesn't work THAT well. It's not, by any means, a miracle drug. I'll admit: I took it a handful of times my sophomore year, buying the pills for $5 a pop from a fraternity brother. The first time I indulged, I made sure to eat a massive breakfast on a Sunday morning (I had heard, correctly, that it was an appetite suppressant), then I blocked off the day to start and finish a 10-page paper due at 10 a.m. on Monday. I was listening at the time to Elvis Costello. Over the next several hours, I became obsessed with Elvis Costello. I torrented his album collection over my school's high-speed wifi, read Wikipedia articles about the British punk/new wave movement, and discovered related artists—Joe Jackson, Nick Lowe—while downloading their discographies, too. By the time I walked away from my computer, I had burned through precious daylight wasting my time on 1980s rockers, and I was no closer to finishing my paper. I only got it done that night thanks to the two great motivators in life: 1. Coffee and 2. A looming deadline.
My point: Adderall only works if you apply yourself to the subject at hand. It gets you locked in, yeah, but it's not necessarily going to make biology fascinating. (This is always funny when, like, a college-themed movie will attempt to show someone on the drug. "WOAH MAN, did YOU KNOW that Napoleon was born on the island of CORSICA?") Anyone without ADHD who says they "need" Concerta or Adderall to write papers or study is kidding himself. The drug isn't the quick-quotes quill from Harry Potter.
So when I heard that there was a legal alternative to Adderall, called, no fucking around, Naderol, I was actually pretty excited. Word from U. Penn students, who got their hands on the supplement first, was positive. And if it could replicate the positive effects of the drug without the stigma of, you know, breaking the law, who could be against the idea? The company sent over—full disclosure—its "4.0 GPA" package (heh) for free. I'll let them explain the science behind what's in the airplane-liquor-sized bottle:
Naderol is a nootropic smart formulation scientifically engineered to increase focus, improve concentration, and deliver long lasting cognitive energy. This provides users with the ability to work smarter, work longer, and accomplish more. Naderol works by actually increasing ‘cognitive energy’… keeping you alert, focused, and motivated so you can always be at your mental best. Naderol will make you stand out in competitive academic and business environments.
The key nootropic substances are clinically proven to improve brain activity by boosting 4 key neurotransmitters: dopamine, norepinephrine, acetylcholine and GABA. This boost dramatically increases creative thinking, information processing, attention, cortical/behavioral positive emotional states, learning, intense focus and memory. Simply put, Naderol “wakes up your brain!”
I took Naderol for the first time at work around a month ago. It was around 10 a.m. I should say here that I'm constantly over-caffeinated: I have two large coffees before noon, a Diet Coke with lunch, and then another large coffee around 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. (I realize that this is probably not sustainable.) I took the supplement after that first large coffee of the morning.
This was a mistake. Anyone who has started an all-nighter by sighing dramatically to his friends, saying "This is going to be a tough one, bros," and then cracking open a Red Bull AND a large iced coffee to make the point clear can attest: There comes a point in time when you can consume way, way, way too much caffeine. When this happens, your head spins, your hands get sweaty, and the caffeine OD, ironically, makes concentration more difficult. My brain that first Naderol day was shooting in 50,000 different directions. I think I said something along the lines of, "NEVER FUCKING AGAIN."
Then, this week, I decided to give it another shot—without having any coffee. Here's how it went down, based on notes I took during the experience:
8:30 a.m.: Just took it. It tastes terrible, yet the aftertaste is a surprisingly smooth grape flavor. (Normally the other way around?)
8:45 a.m.: Starting to feel effects. Hands are sweating like before, can feel heart racing a little faster. Head does NOT feel all over the place, though.
9:30 a.m.: I don't have quite the same level of focus as with Adderall. Also don't have that 'I want to do everything and learn everything' feeling. More similar to a hyper, FIve Hour Energy buzz, but I'm content to stay sitting at my desk and working.
10 a.m.: Wide fucking awake.
11 a.m.: Writing very fast.
11:30 a.m.: Jonesing for a cigarette? Possibly the earliest I've ever craved one.
12 p.m.: Still rolling.
1 p.m.: Concentration starting to diminish. There may be a five-hour limit.
2 p.m. Lunch time. Can't feel any sort of edge anymore. Still, a not unpleasant experience.
So yeah, it works pretty well. I got a lot done. No negative effects.
I am concerned about its obvious current lack of FDA approval, and I'm willing to bet that when the supplement becomes popular in the next few months (which I think it will), its creators will have a fight on their hands. The obvious nods to Adderall may have to go, even though it's their biggest draw at the moment.
I'm also concerned about notoriously binge-happy kids overdoing it—taking, like, three in a row to see what will happen. We're idiots, constantly trying to one-up each other. I'm not sure how safe that'll be.
But, overall, I'd recommend trying it out. And if you enjoyed the previous few hundred words, you can thank the empty bottle currently sitting next to my laptop.