speed - Ona Kondrotas May 15, 2006 Speed culture in the...

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Ona Kondrotas May 15, 2006 Speed culture in the digital generation: A commentary on amphetamine use at MIT and colleges nationwide Amphetamine is gaining popularity with college students across the nation. Diverted prescription stimulants (mainly, amphetamines like Adderall and Dexedrine) are second only to marijuana in their popularity with this age group: surveys conducted at more than a hundred campuses reveal that speed is illicitly used by approximately 6.9% of college students; 2.1% have used it in the last month. Use prevalence estimates vary dramatically: while at some campuses no students had used amphetamines in the past year, at others as many as 25% reported past year use and 13% reported past month use. In fact, amphetamines are far more prevalent at highly selective, highly competitive private colleges in the Northeast than at most other schools. Just attending a highly selective college doubles your likelihood of using prescription stimulants nonmedically. 1 Such estimates don’t account for students legitimately prescribed the drugs for attention disorders. No doubt schools with the highest illicit use rates also have high rates of legitimate prescribed use, for without the generosity of students diagnosed with ADHD there would be no speed around for others to use illicitly. It is therefore likely that far more than a quarter of the student body at these schools uses amphetamines – enough to render amphetamine use and abuse commonplace. Harvard and MIT, both colleges located in Cambridge and both in the top five US schools, are just the hotbeds of chemical self-enhancement statistics present them as. Speed is standard here, and the culture that has formed around its use has little in common with the stigmatized marginal groups associated with other drugs. 2 And while supply here never entirely satisfies demand (at times falling so notably short that it prompts small factions of students to seek immediate treatment for attention problems), it is hardly surprising that more Adderall is prescribed in Massachusetts than in any other state. 3 Writes David Lenson, “the current sympathy and overlap between drug takers and hackers are based on their common perception that the reprogramming of consciousness, whether human or electronic, promises a quasi-evolutionary leap.” 4 If so, what campus better reflects the amphetamine phenomenon than MIT’s? MIT students’ drug use invokes a developing relationship between young, educated Americans and the medical establishment as a drug dispensing mechanism. For although amphetamine’s current popularity parallels rates and use patterns seen in the 60s and 70s, the broader context of attitudes toward drug use is entirely different today. Instead of touting drugs as a symbol of political rebellion, today’s youth bypass the
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This note was uploaded on 11/09/2011 for the course ARCH 4.401 taught by Professor Utemetabauer during the Fall '06 term at MIT.

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speed - Ona Kondrotas May 15, 2006 Speed culture in the...

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