Just how easy is it to find prescription drugs on a college campus? In one day, Nate was able to get five dealer’s numbers simply by bringing up prescription stimulants to peers on campus. Another time, Nate mentioned he had a lot of homework to get done in a short amount of time and two separate people asked if he wanted an Adderall pill free of charge. To find out more about this underground business, we interviewed dealers, users, and professionals at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Dealers | Users | Campus Police | Psychiatrist | Ethics Professor | Survey | Gallery

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RENO, NV - An anonymous drug dealer holds a mix of Vyvanse(blue) and Adderall(orange) pills. This full time student at UNR sells only to people she knows well and can trust. Once these pills are sold her dealing days are over. She no longer refills her prescription because of health complications related to the pills. CREDIT: Nate Eng

Dealers

RENO, NV – A college student diagnosed with ADHD digs out a blue 60 mg Vyvanse. She can sell a single 60 mg Vyvanse for $10 or more depending on the supply and demand. The highest demand for psychostimulants like Vyvanse is during midterm and finals’ week. CREDIT: Nate Eng

RENO, NV – A college student diagnosed with ADHD digs out a blue 60 mg Vyvanse. She can sell a single 60 mg Vyvanse for $10 or more depending on the supply and demand. The highest demand for psychostimulants like Vyvanse is during midterm and finals’ week. CREDIT: Nate Eng

Q: How did you obtain prescription stimulants?

Dealer 1: “I didn’t do just strictly to sell, because I really needed it.” This dealer was diagnosed with ADHD by a psychiatrist at 17 years old.

Dealer 2: “My mind was always racing, so my mom brought me to a doctor. I told the doctor what was going on and he prescribed me Adderall.”

Dealer 3: “I was diagnosed with ADHD in high school.”

Q: Who did/do you sell to?

Dealer 1: “I usually would only sell to people that I know very well…It was nice just to have that side bit of cash, kind of like a constant extra little thing that was so easy because I didn’t need it anyway,”

RENO, NV - An anonymous drug dealer holds a mix of Vyvanse(blue) and Adderall(orange) pills. This full time student at UNR sells only to people she knows well and can trust. Once these pills are sold her dealing days are over. She no longer refills her prescription because of health complications related to the pills. CREDIT: Nate Eng

RENO, NV – An anonymous drug dealer holds a mix of Vyvanse(blue) and Adderall(orange) pills. This full time student at UNR sells only to people she knows well and can trust. Once these pills are sold her dealing days are over. She no longer refills her prescription because of health complications related to the pills. CREDIT: Nate Eng

Dealer 2: “I’m originally from L.A., [but] I transferred to the University of Nevada and I was playing football up here at the time. And I didn’t have any intentions of selling it, it just happened. I needed the prescription and some student athletes knew that I was prescribed Adderall and just said ‘hey, can I buy some off you?’

Dealer 3: “My friend in high school asked if I was on Adderall and I said yeah. [From there] I began to sell to other people a little bit.”

Q: Did you notice any negative side effects from taking a prescription stimulant?

Dealer 1: “My resting pulse at night was 140.”

Dealer 2: “I just got to a point where I felt I didn’t need to take it as much [to focus].”

Dealer 3: “I can’t my heart rate is just, sometimes it’s unreal. It’s kind of a nervous feeling.”

The “Study Drug” $ Breakdown: Selection and Prices

RENO, NV - Many college students take study drugs on repeat to prepare for finals. In an online poll, 53% of students plan on taking a study drug again (View all responses: http://goo.gl/kJc52i). CREDIT: Nate Eng

Users

RENO, NV - Photo illustration of a college student stressing over his workload. In an online poll, 48% of students said they took Adderall, Vyvanse, Ritalin, etc for "studying." (see sidebar, responses: http://goo.gl/kJc52i). CREDIT: Nate Eng

RENO, NV – Photo illustration of a college student stressing over his workload. In an online poll, 48% of students said they took Adderall, Vyvanse, Ritalin, etc for “studying.” (see sidebar, responses: http://goo.gl/kJc52i). CREDIT: Nate Eng

Overall, all three users said they did not pay for prescription drugs, they were offered it from friends.

Q: When was the first time you illegally took prescription stimulants?

User 1: “Sophomore year [of college].”

User 2: “Freshman year [of college].”

User 3: “Freshman year [of college].”

Q: Why did you take it?

User 1: “Mine was I was doing a project and another student said he had a bunch of Adderall to take to do this project, ‘you want to help me with it?’”

User 2: “Finals.”

User 3: “Midterms.”

RENO, NV - Many college students take study drugs on repeat to prepare for finals. In an online poll, 53% of students plan on taking a study drug again (see sidebar, responses: http://goo.gl/kJc52i). CREDIT: Nate Eng

RENO, NV – Many college students take study drugs on repeat to prepare for finals. In an online poll, 53% of students plan on taking a study drug again (see sidebar, responses: http://goo.gl/kJc52i). CREDIT: Nate Eng

Q: Did you notice any negative side effects?

User 1: “My feet and hands are freezing.”

User 2: “One time I took it when I was supposed to be studying and I got caught on YouTube for three hours. Whatever you’re doing, you just get focused into that.”

User 3: “I think my biggest complaint is my blood flow…it’s discouraging to pee.”

Results from our online survey. (View all responses: http://goo.gl/kJc52i). Inofgraphic: http://goo.gl/Lo5Jdr

Results from our online survey. (View all responses: http://goo.gl/kJc52i).
Inofgraphic: http://goo.gl/Lo5Jdr

Campus Police

Seana Baker–Sergeant, Drug Detection K9 Handler

Cameron Carmichael–Sergeant

Q: Do you believe there is a study drug problem on campus?

RENO, NV - Photo illustration of a 'study drug' about to be taken. In an online poll, 58% of students said it was "moderately easy" to find Adderall, Vyvanse, Ritalin, etc. on campus (see sidebar, responses: http://goo.gl/kJc52i). CREDIT: Nate Eng

RENO, NV – Photo illustration of a ‘study drug’ about to be taken. In an online poll, 58% of students said it was “moderately easy” to find Adderall, Vyvanse, Ritalin, etc. on campus (see sidebar, responses: http://goo.gl/kJc52i). CREDIT: Nate Eng

SB: “I think that on any college campus during any type of midterm or final time, especially at the end people are trying to catch up who have not necessarily been steady in their studies all year, it does tend to happen a lot.”

Q: What are the repercussions for illegally having prescription stimulants?

SB: “Without a prescription it is a crime…It is a felony to be in possession of a schedule one substance.”

Q: What measures have UNR police taken to combat the problem?

SB: “We try to hit it on the fore front with education with student conduct…We try to let students know that ‘hey, we aren’t blind to the fact that these things are occurring, but we’re trying to give you the education of this is what can happen.’”

CC: “San Diego State where my son just graduated, his roommate was prescribed Ritalin or Adderall and he was actually selling to other kids on campus. And it was primarily during finals time…He did not get caught.”

Q: What advice would you give someone who doesn’t see themselves as a “drug dealer?”

SB: “It can entirely ruin their college career.”

RENO, NV –Vyvanse(left,blue) and Adderall (right,orange) pills spill out onto the counter top in the home of a full time college student. This college student illegally sells her extra pills as a source of side income. CREDIT: Nate Eng

Psychiatrist

Dr. Steven Zuchowski

Q: On average, how many patients do you see who are seeking help for ADHD?

A: “In a given week, in an average week, I would say probably 3or 4 per week.”

RENO, NV – This full time college student points out her favorite kind of psychostimulant drug, Vyvanse. She has been taking various kinds of psychostimulants since she was diagnosed in high school at the age of 17. CREDIT: Nate Eng

RENO, NV – This full time college student points out her favorite kind of psychostimulant drug, Vyvanse. She has been taking various kinds of psychostimulants since she was diagnosed in high school at the age of 17. CREDIT: Nate Eng

Q: How many of those patients actually have ADHD?

A: “I would say about half turn out to have ADHD.”

Q: Is it fairly easy for students to attain prescription stimulants at the school’s Health Center?

A: “At UNR we have a policy that says they have to have formal testing. And the testing involves about 8 hours or so of a whole variety of psychological tests, some of which directly test their attention and their hard to think. In other words, there’s a checklist you can see on the internet, you can look them up easy enough, and all you have to say is yes. It’s not real hard to pretend that. But we have some of these tests that directly test attention and if a person just isn’t trying it will detect that usually. So in other words, if a person says if I don’t try hard then I’ll come up with a high score and justify stimulants. So, at UNR everybody gets the full battery test. Now there’s exceptions to that… someone who had the full battery test when they were 8 or 10 years old and have been on prescription since then.”

RENO, NV –Vyvanse(left,blue) and Adderall (right,orange) pills spill out onto the counter top in the home of a full time college student. This college student illegally sells her extra pills as a source of side income. CREDIT: Nate Eng

RENO, NV –Vyvanse(left,blue) and Adderall (right,orange) pills spill out onto the counter top in the home of a full time college student. This college student illegally sells her extra pills as a source of side income. CREDIT: Nate Eng

Q: Have patients come into your office demanding a specific prescription? 

A: “That’s extremely rare. I’ve been doing this for 15 years and I’ve had one or 2 people in my whole 15 years who I thought were kind of being pushy about it and not wanting to hear what my opinion was. They wanted the prescription and they wanted it now.”

Q: How many students do you think are taking stimulants at the University of Nevada, Reno?

A: “From what I hear from students, it’s more even more, more like maybe 50 percent would kind of, what I kind of hear just informally from students saying well yeah it seems like a lot of people are taking some degree of stimulants.”

Q: Do you think students are attaining prescription stimulants to sell and make a profit?

A: “I believe that the majority of people I’m treating really benefit and I hear things from them. I think it would be surprising if somebody was a pure faker, somebody who said ‘I’m going to go in and make a business out of this.’”

RENO, NV - Photo illustration of Ritalin pills forming an 'A.' In an online poll, 48% of students said they took Adderall, Vyvanse, Ritalin, etc for "studying." (all responses: http://goo.gl/kJc52i). CREDIT: Nate Eng

Ethics Professor–Journalism

Caesar Andrews

Q: What is your perspective on study drugs on campus?

A: “It’s hard for me to say. Do not cross that line because there is something unethical or something immoral about it. In some ways that line is a little blurry because we have acceptable forms of stimulants in our society…There is a significant difference when it’s illegal, but conceptually I don’t know that there is such a massive difference.”

RENO, NV - Photo illustration of Ritalin pills forming an 'A.' In an online poll, 48% of students said they took Adderall, Vyvanse, Ritalin, etc for "studying." (see sidebar, responses: http://goo.gl/kJc52i). CREDIT: Nate Eng

RENO, NV – Photo illustration of Ritalin pills forming an ‘A.’ In an online poll, 48% of students said they took Adderall, Vyvanse, Ritalin, etc for “studying.” (see sidebar, responses: http://goo.gl/kJc52i). CREDIT: Nate Eng

Q: What advice would you give students who have this easily accessible drug?

A: “The advice I would say is try to do the things that you are personally, inside your own head and heart, proud to be trying to do…I think you should be putting into practice right now the kinds of things about you. Your tactics, your principles, your practices, strategies that are really going to define you for a long time. So if that’s the case, figure out genuine, honest ways of trying to achieve in what you need to achieve.”

Q: What has changed from when you were in college to now?

A: “We live in a world that’s as competitive, or perhaps more competitive, as ever before…The most notable cultural example for us is probably steroids in professional sports. Where extremely gifted athletes look at the competitive field and still feel like they might be coming up short…And that leads some world class athletes to say I need an edge.”

For more on this underground business at UNR:

http://nevadamediaalliance.org/2014/09/30/the-underground-business-of-selling-psychostimulants-or-study-drugs-in-college/