Amphetamines on campus -- an initial pushback?
Here is an NYT article about a handful of colleges that have begun to tighten the rules for their health centers in dispensing Adderall and other amphetamines. Who knows if it'll catch on more broadly, but it sounds like we're near the point where, although amphetamine use will continue to increase, it'll be at a decelerating or plateau-ing rate.
Earlier I reviewed the history of mainstream drug use over the 20th century, which tracks the rising vs. falling-crime trend. Casual drug use was way worse during the mid-century because amphetamines, barbiturates, and minor tranquilizers were protected by a fig leaf of medical necessity -- to squeeze out the volatility of everyday life, to keep everybody's nerves within a narrow optimal range, neither too high-strung nor too sluggish. We've seen that return in the last 20 years with anti-depressants, the amphetamine revival, and sex-life drugs.
The harsher effects of opiates (the drug of choice during the Jazz Age) and crack / cocaine (during the New Wave Age) makes it harder to slap together a medical rationale for their use. Hence when the drug culture centers around out-there drugs, it becomes more of a fringe thing, not where every other housewife is hoovering a line here and a line there to make it through her daily housework. People become more wary of drug use. And rising-crime times see less cocooning and more social connectedness, reducing people's feeling that they need to take a pill in order to feel better. They already feel better from their sense of belonging and social support.
The transition between the mid-century attitude of "take whatever drugs get you through the day" to the New Wave Age attitude of "I don't know, that's some pretty serious shit you're fucking around with there" began in the late 1950s and early '60s. There was a growing awareness that casual drug use, no matter how medically rationalized, was messing up their ability to live a fully human and dynamic life. We're not quite there yet, since there's only a handful of colleges starting to push back, not a broader movement among the users themselves. But in the next 5-10 years, I see a repeat of that awakening circa 1960 against casual drug use.
The article doesn't draw a very rich portrait of the students, but the basic pattern is there to recognize if you've had much contact with college kids in the past 5-10 years. Fundamentally, Millennials are amoral bullshit artists who lie for boring, trivial reasons. It's not the mischievous prankster kind of truth-bending, or the kind that advances Machiavellian ambition. There's no larger scheme behind their lies, and hence no attempt to justify or rationalize lying per se as actually moral when you think about it, e.g. to protect someone else's feelings. They rationalize their individual actions, not the entire pattern of chronic lying.
They're only looking to minimize the volatility in their mundane daily lives, and whatever it takes, it takes. If you're feeling sluggish, lie to some quack who'll give you Adderall. If your cash flow takes a sudden dip, lie to some quack so you can re-sell your Adderall pills for $5-10 apiece. If you've been putting off your three-page paper, and face a sudden huge demand of your time and effort, well screw that, just BS your way through it. If you're caught doing anything that makes you look bad, just BS your way out of it. More than any other generation, the Millennials act according to the credo of "Just BS your way out of it."