Miami Hurricane Defends Controversial Pieces Perceived as Promoting Adderall, Other Study Drugs

Controversy recently ensnarled The Miami Hurricane at the University of Miami for its publication of a “special Adderall report” that included a column and staff editorial seen by some as promoting the popular “study drug” and others like it.


The column at the heart of the mini-blow-up, headlined “Stressed-Out Students Should Take Advantage of Pills,” implores readers, “Medicate, Miami. You’ve earned it.”  The paper’s editor-in-chief calls it satirical, although it reads as straightforwardly snarky.

As the student writer contends, “You can’t really blame college students for ‘abusing’ study drugs. . . . A UCLA study shows that college students face more work and stress than ever before.  And with prescription study drugs being handed out like PEZ candies on campus, why wouldn’t students take advantage of them? . . . It’s hard to abuse a drug whose main side effects are productivity and finding linear algebra interesting. I can’t list the number of all-nighters I’ve pulled with the help of Concerta [a study drug] in order to cram a semester’s worth of writing into one night.”

A separate staff editorial on Adderall’s widespread illegal use confirms “college students will find a way to get the drug even if it isn’t prescribed to them. Whether they buy it from someone who has ADHD, buy it from someone who obtains it illegally or steal it from a friend, where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

As the editorial, headlined “Magic Pill Can Enhance Focus, Drive,” concludes, “You can blame the system. You can blame college professors. You can even blame society for not making exceptions to the rule that some students must ‘do it all.’  Whichever way you look at it, students have been forced to search for ways to boost their drive, and Adderall is indeed a solution.  Adderall won’t make you smarter or invincible, it just heightens your drive to finish study guides, research papers, and projects. Others shouldn’t look down on those who need– and welcome– the extra push.”

Upon publication earlier this month, the pieces– particularly the column– apparently spurred an outsized helping of “criticism and discontent” among Hurricane devotees.

As the pub’s EIC Allison Goodman confirms in an editorial, “People have shared their opinions over email, Facebook, Twitter, and through comments on our website. Most have scrutinized the editors’ decision to publish the satirical commentary, which was by a writer who has turned to Concerta– legally prescribed– to enhance his academic performance. Many have questioned the credibility of the Hurricane for publishing such a piece.”

The question seemingly at the heart of the credibility issue: Are the pieces irresponsibly supporting, and even encouraging, illegal drug use/abuse or simply pointing out the drugs’ accepted benefits and obvious popularity among students?

One student critic, speaking to the “Medicate, Miami” columnist: “[I]t is highly unethical and irresponsible for a person in [your] position to . . . advocate prescription drug abuse.  This is not a brave civil rights stance.  It is an attempt to convince readers that his own abuse should not be condemned, but instead supported by the community.  Prescription drug abuse is a major problem in our country, and South Florida ranks highly among the most affected regions. . . . While the First Amendment gives us the right to freedom of speech, and with that right you can advocate all the drug abuse you want, to use the Miami Hurricane to do so is a severe violation.”

In response, Goodman defended both pieces and rejected calls by some to retract them.  As she writes, “I’d like to make it clear that the opinion columns published in the Hurricane . . . represent the views of the individual columnists, and not the Hurricane or its editorial board.  Choosing not to publish a column because we disagree with it would be inherently biased.  It’s also worth noting that nowhere did the staff editorial endorse illegal Adderall abuse– that was never our position, and we would never intentionally encourage students to turn to an activity that could harm themselves or the university.  The editorial, the product of organized staff-wide discussion, merely recognized the pressure students face that sometimes lead them to do things like take Adderall to boost their focus. . . . There is obviously a fine line between choosing not to chastise our peers for illegal drug use and encouraging this illegal drug use– but we treaded it carefully.”

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