Please stop tweaking and tweeting

Nick Sestanovich
Nick Sestanovich

When I heard about “tweaking and tweeting,” I  wondered what it could possibly mean. I would have guessed it meant making Twitter posts and then making changes to them later on, but it turns out I’m only right about the Twitter part.

No, this phrase actually refers to the ignominious practice of making Twitter posts about prescription drug use.

A recent study by Brigham Young University aimed to show abuse of the prescription drug Adderall, which treats Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, by gathering all tweets over a one-year period that mentioned using the drug. In all, they found more than 200,000 from over 130,000 unique accounts that discussed Adderall.

The study also found Adderall mentions increased around the time of final exams, and that students tend to discuss Adderall more often in the middle of the week than on weekends. Students have also shown awareness in their tweets of the consequences of abusing Adderall, such as sleep deprivation and appetite loss.nick_online

I find there are two important takeaways from this study: don’t abuse Adderall and don’t talk about your drug abuse on social media.

Like the more popular Ritalin, Adderall is used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, but it’s frequently used more often than necessary. Also like Ritalin, it often falls into the hands of people who won’t really need it because they want an easy high. About 40 percent of teenagers find it OK to abuse prescription drugs because they believe it is safer than recreational drugs, according to a survey by the University of Southern California.

I don’t have a problem with students taking prescription drugs as long as they aren’t taking more than the normal dose and they truly need it. What I take issue with is people who abuse them like a recreational drug, especially when they don’t really have trouble focusing.

Many of the tweets suggest students use Adderall as a study aid. For students who truly have difficulty focusing on schoolwork, Adderall might be beneficial. But people who are perfectly capable of focusing should stop abusing the drug and giving legitimate users a bad reputation.

And if you are going to abuse Adderall, please don’t talk about it on Twitter.

Whether people realize it or not, their social networking profile plays a huge role in how people present themselves to the world. This is problematic if the kind of person people want to present themselves as is an Adderall addict. I did a Twitter search for Adderall, and people post about it every few minutes. I’m not joking.

Some mentions are jokes, such as, “Breakfast: Adderall. Lunch: Adderall. Dinner: Adderall.” Some are just sad, like, “Far too much Adderall and not nearly enough sleep in my future.”

Either way, these tweets glorify Adderall abuse, which won’t serve people well when their accounts are being searched by potential employers. All this talk about acceptable social media behavior isn’t new. I’ve been hearing it since the Myspace days, but clearly people aren’t listening. I know Twitter allows for users to be more anonymous, but many of these Adderall tweets are by people who aren’t. They use pictures of themselves and presumably their real names. They want to present themselves as Adderall junkies, whether or not it is really true. I haven’t seen any of these tweets that end in #YOLO, but I’m sure they exist.

Students might see Adderall as an easy fix to their study habits, but if they’re just going by what they read on the Internet, they won’t know the true consequences. They should talk about issues with the drug with their parents or doctors, rather than the denizens of Twitter. The lesson here is to please use Adderall and your 140 characters responsibly.


Nick Sestanovich can be reached at [email protected] or @Nsestanovich on Twitter.

Illustration by Liz Coffee.