Updated: Jan. 24, 2018 at 9:10 p.m.
Discreetly passing pills and a wad of cash across tables in Gelman Library and other GW buildings, on-campus Adderall dealers tend to blend in.
But the students who sell Adderall at GW all have different stories – varying in their prescription status, income from selling and volume of sales. Unprescribed students, the clients for these dealers, said they’ve used these easily-accessible drugs to compensate for procrastinating school work and to meet approaching course deadlines.
The Hatchet spoke with six students who sell Adderall on campus, all under the condition of anonymity, to understand their time as a student seller without exposing them to legal ramifications.
Students found in possession of drugs with the intent to sell face fines and possible suspension or expulsion and it is also a federal crime to distribute prescription stimulants without a license to prescribe.
Here are three stories that illustrate the various ways students became entangled with the business.
‘I need it for myself as well’
– Female, junior
A junior in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, who was prescribed Adderall at 16 years old, waited about four years before she began selling last August.
When she saw the inconveniences that drug dealers would make her friends endure, like pushing sales back by two hours or even two days, she was convinced to start selling her supply. Of the drugs she could get busted for selling, which include weed and acid tabs, she considers Adderall the least of her concerns.
“You don’t wanna be known as the person who always sells Adderall,” she said. “Cause then that gives a lot of unwanted attention.”
She carries extended release and instant varieties of her pills, which she is prescribed monthly. She sells the 10 milligram dosage for $5 and the 25 mg pills for $8. She previously sold the pills for less, but a fellow dealer who bought from her said she was “crazy” for underselling and could get more money for them.
But there’s a limit to how much she’s willing to dish out, especially as final exams roll around, because she needs the pills to focus on her own exams and papers. But during the regular school year, she typically sets aside a week’s worth of prescription to sell.
On top of selling and earning her degree, she also works a job for minimum wage. While Adderall is not her main source of income, the junior has saved enough to put $2,000 acquired from drug sales into her retirement fund.
Students outside of her circle often comment on how hard it is to find an Adderall plug on campus, she said. Most of her clientele are friends and close contacts, and she said dealing has not changed her relationships with them.
“It’s actually more convenient for them cause I just drop it off,” she said. “It’s not like a client relationship, we’re still friends.”
‘I felt sketchy for selling Adderall’
– Male, junior
After being prescribed Adderall in elementary school, this junior stopped taking pills after only a few years on the drug. But when he needed to score higher on the SAT and started to feel the pressure of college courses, he started taking his prescription again.
His first deal took place in Gelman Library out in the open at a table, where his friend sat bleary-eyed over her work. The junior empathized with her and handed over a single Adderall pill, hoping to help her out. Later in the semester, she approached him again for Adderall with that same exhausted stare. This time he debated selling to her, but again acted as a guardian angel providing the focus-enhancing drug free of charge.
“I was essentially playing the role of a drug dealer,” he said. “Except selling medication to students in academic turmoil.”
He said he felt uncomfortable dealing but continued to sell to this one student about five times over the spring semester of his sophomore year, going to different spots on campus to accommodate her. Most often, he would give the pill to her for free, and other times he negotiated a price around $10 to $15 per 5 mg pill, which he set after asking a friend from home how much he charges.
“Adderall is not cheap,” he said. “The combination of the actual medication and being evaluated by both a psychologist and a psychiatrist cost thousands of dollars.”
She was the first and only person he has dealt to.
The student has since stopped selling to his friend, breaking off the deal and telling the friend not to contact him about buying the drug again because of the negative effects for people who aren’t prescribed. Experts said the unprescribed use of drugs like Adderall is a dangerous practice because it can give false confidence and result in negative health effects, like increased heart rate, headache or loss of appetite.
‘I don’t actually take Adderall’
– Male, senior
The difference between this senior and the other Adderall dealers on campus is that he isn’t prescribed the drug. Most on-campus dealers wouldn’t search for pills to sell if they weren’t prescribed, so he said his motivation to sell is unique.
The senior began selling Adderall and other drugs senior year of high school because a friend could snag the pills in bulk for “really cheap.”
He continued selling into college to cover the cost of student loans, knowing he wanted to get rid of the debt before graduation. While he does not pay full tuition, he has managed to contribute about $1,000 to paying off his loans.
But his costs of living outsizes the amount he might make selling a bottle of pills, which could be about $100, and he said his relatively low supply is constrained because it requires a prescription. Adderall made up for a small percentage of his profits, but he said he could make more money selling other drugs.
“Adderall is definitely the worst market to be in,” he said. “Profit margins in Adderall are worse than every other drug, except weed.”
Although he has ceased dealing drugs completely after three years of selling, the senior often kept dealer-client relationships at a business level, meeting people outside his off-campus apartment rather than inviting them upstairs. He also said he marked up prices if he knew the students were wealthy or in a fraternity.
The dealer doesn’t take Adderall, as he said he would more likely “play online chess for five hours” or journey on a Wikipedia deep-dive than complete any homework. But he said the demanding standards of success at GW are what drove students to seek out his services.
“I would rather get C’s and B’s and not take amphetamines every day,” the senior said. “For a lot of people here, getting a C or B is simply unacceptable.”
Sarah Roach contributed reporting.