Does it all ADD up?


The prevalence of ADD, ADHD, and prescription drugs at X

There is no debate that this generation has seen and experienced some of the most developed forms of attention deficit disorder. Whether ADD or ADHD, students on university campuses are not exempt from the existence of these conditions. Last year, the CBC reported that Canadian students with ADHD were reaching record acceptance rates at Canadian universities, but were met with mixed accommodations. The report was based off a study done by the Canadian Centre for ADHD awareness which illustrated that things like time management and organizational skills are not treated with the same level of seriousness. Also on the list, was the issue of note taking which is one of the most important parts of being an academic student. 

At StFX, students are able to enrol in academic accommodations provided for students with learning disabilities such as the Tramble Rooms and now the recently opened Student Success Centre. Nonetheless the issue of attention deficits continues to surpass the classroom - often trickling into one’s daily life. 



The medicinal treatment for these learning disorders are much more familiar to the millennial masses. Students who have prescription drugs like Adderall, Concerta, or Ritalin are enticed to enter what is known as the “Underground Study Drug Market.” The term seems farfetched compared to the larger scale black markets however it is very accurate in reference to Canadian universities where demand can be at an all-time high during exams. Students who are prescribed these drugs evolve into dealers overnight when an exam is scheduled that week. A StFX student, wishing to remain anonymous came forward stating, “It is extremely easy to get a hold of these but also extremely dangerous as well.” Some students undiagnosed with a condition that requires “study” drugs often overlook the safety aspects, creating a potentially dangerous situation. Those who get a hold of them sometimes abuse them by either taking them before going out or in too big a quantity while studying, according to said source.     

The interviewed student is diagnosed with ADHD and does not identify its challenges as a big deal while on campus. The student source said that the drugs are just on the side, and it is helpful to do other things such as meditation, physical exercise or to just simply take breaks during studying.

“The Tramble Rooms are a great resource and are very hospitable to your needs and unique learning styles,” says a source from the Centre for Accessible Learning. When asked if the anonymous source has ever felt pressured to sell or lend their prescription drugs to friends or acquaintances they replied “Everyone I know has sold some in their time here. There’s a huge demand during mid-term and finals season, when everyone is under a lot of stress and can’t cope with the amount of schoolwork.”

When asked if there is a difference between simply having trouble focusing and having an actual disorder, the source highlighted the amount of technology our demographic is engaged in, “People get so distracted nowadays from video games, social media, and other flashy things.” 

Students attempt to self-diagnose but are disappointed when doctors deny the condition, when a lack of concentration can easily be credited to the frequent use of electronic device. The Xaverian’s source mentioned that the testing to be properly diagnosed is heavily sophisticated and that one cannot simply show up entitled for prescription drugs, which is the initial incentive for testing. Following conversations with members of StFX, it was noted that students will try to pretend to have symptoms of ADD or ADHD just to get their hands on the drugs with the sole intention of financially capitalizing on the growing demand. 

Luckily for students at StFX there are many people and resources that help those with these certain conditions. Note taking is covered by hired note-takers, who attend every class and upload their notes to a universal drive. Other methods such as being able to write exams on the computer or be given extra time on tests are offered to students with learning disabilities. The Tramble Rooms are located on the fourth floor of the Students’ Union building and can be contacted at or reached at their website