One of the members of a panel of students from the University of Kentucky assembled by the show said:
Everybody's trying to get an edge. And I mean, and if you can take a pill that will help you study all night to get that grade you need, I mean, a lotta people don't see why they wouldn't do it.
As was the case when PEDs were first being used by athletes, there is some gray area in regards to their legality (it's much closer to black and white now). Adderall is a legal, but people often obtain the pills from others who have prescriptions, which is not. Alan DeSantis, a communications professor at UK explains:
About four percent of our college campus has, actually, legal prescriptions. But what we have found is that while they may get 30 doses, they very rarely would ever take a dose everyday. Which means, at the end of the month, there is always anywhere from 10 to 20 surplus pills left over. And these are the surplus pills that are doled out.
Baseball might have its own problem with drugs like Ritalin and Adderall. As a result of the Mitchell Report, we know that in 2008, there was a 7.6% increase in the number of players with prescriptions for attention-boosting drugs, which Newsweek attributed to baseball's ban on other amphetamines like greenies. Some of those are likely legitimate cases, but given the sharp increase, it's probable that a significant number of players are taking the drug who do not have diagnoses that would hold up under close scrutiny.
In addition to the possibility of addiction, Adderall carries health risks consistent with other amphetamines, especially when taken in large doses. Like steroids or HGH, those who are unwilling to take those gambles don't reap the benefits drug can provide.
Another one of the students on the panel offered an objection to the use of Adderall similar to what we've heard time and time again from opponents of PED usage in sports:
I feel that it is an unfair advantage. If the person next to me that has the exact same schedule takes an Adderall they can stay up the entire night knowing the material and come in and make a grade better than me.
I mean, it is somewhat tempting but at the same time I'm just so proud that I've come this far and I know when I look at my grades that it is purely by my own ability.
Students aren't in direct competition with each other to the extent that athletes are, but those breaking the law by taking other people's pills (or those bending them by faking symptoms to get their own prescriptions) are certainly gaining an unfair advantage.
As medical technology evolves, we are seeing more and more drugs that can make our minds function more efficiently and our bodies stronger. Like anything else, these carry their own risks and the people willing to mortgage their future health are going to be able to gain and edge and cut corners now. Is that inherently fair? Probably not, but there aren't immediate rewards for taking the high road and it's extremely difficult to prevent people from taking the easy way out.
Setting aside the legalities for a second, is there anything morally wrong with taking a drug that makes your brain more potent? Wouldn't you want the option of taking something that makes you ostensibly smarter? According the the show, Adderall is popular among truck drivers because it helps them stay more alert at the wheel, which could potentially save lives. If people can use it without forming an addiction or even a habit, what's the problem with it?
The ethics of this issue are awfully fuzzy, and they promise to become more complicated as drugs become more effective. I'm somewhat of a Libertarian when it comes to drugs, so I think people should be able to make their own choices in regards to the substances they choose to use. But I'm sure your mileage will vary.