Like any university campus, Christian colleges/universities have their share of students who abuse street drugs. But in my work with Christian college students over the past few years, I've noticed more and more over-the-counter and prescription drug abuse. One of the newest and seemingly innocuous (from the students' perspective) drugs of choice is Adderall.

Adderall is prescribed to those suffering from ADHD. However, students who feel pressure to achieve high grades and maintain the requisite college experience are turning to Adderall, known as the "study buddy," for a boost. As an "academic steroid," it gives students the energy and focus they need to pull all-nighters or study for long periods during the day. And it's easy to get. A student can buy it on campus from other students or lie about their condition in order to obtain a prescription from a medical provider. Inside Higher Ed reports that nationally, the number of students who are using Adderall and Ritalin as "study aids" is close to10 percent. In a New Yorker article titled "Brain Gain," Margaret Talbot writes:

… in recent years Adderall and Ritalin, another stimulant, have been adopted as cognitive enhancers: drugs that high-functioning, overcommitted people take to become higher-functioning and more overcommitted. (Such use is "off label," meaning that it does not have the approval of either the drug's manufacturer or the Food and Drug Administration.) College campuses have become laboratories for experimentation with neuroenhancement ….

I first heard about Adderall a few years ago when a sharp, highly involved, and winsome student sent me an e-mail asking me "to keep her accountable." This precious student confessed to using Adderall during finals week and on a few other occasions when pressures piled up. When I asked her where she procured it, she told me that she got it off of another student.

This student looks and acts like an upstanding member of any youth or young adult group—she could be a ministry leader in church. In fact, I love her dearly. And that is often the case with students who are abusing neuro-enhancing drugs; most of the time you can't tell they're abusing by just looking at them.

As I already mentioned, for many, abusing these drugs is a means to a tangible end. Students are concerned with getting into grad school, pleasing their parents, and getting the coveted internship that lands them the desired job in this precarious economy. To do that, they need an impressive resume. Balancing a social life, academic pressures, and over-involvement in organizations and campus ministries can be overwhelming. Thus the temptation to abuse a tiny neuro-enhancing pill.

What can Christian campuses do? First, it's imperative that we not incite an over-commitment and false guilt frenzy by explicitly or implicitly placing too many demands on our students. We need to examine our spoken and unspoken rules about academic performance and ministry involvement.

Second, we (as well as churches and parents) need to lead the way in modeling the natural rhythms of worship in our common life—rhythms of work, prayer, Sabbath, service, and play. As Her.meneutics editor Katelyn Beaty pointed out to me, "Christian colleges in particular should incorporate a spirit of Sabbath and worship into their common life, and should thus be distinct from their diploma-generating secular counterparts." I couldn't agree more.

That's why I repeatedly remind my resident assistants, students, and myself that we don't have to be involved in a lifetime of ministry in one semester, or in four years. We don't have to take every opportunity that comes our way. Not even Jesus Christ, God incarnate, did that. There are seasons in life—seasons with differing levels of involvement. As Lauren Winner once noted in Christianity Today magazine, getting eight hours of sleep may very well be the most holy thing we do as followers of Jesus. It'll help keep us from making ourselves and everyone around us miserable. Busyness, hurry, and over-commitment are not badges of honor. On the contrary, they are indicative of a sick soul. (In this vein, I highly recommend reading Jan Johnson's newest book (IVP 2011) Abundant Simplicity: Discovering The Unhurried Rhythms of Grace; look for fellow Her.meneutics writer Amy Julia Becker's review in the next couple weeks.)

Surely no doubt parents, Christian college campuses, and churches need to address the danger of abusing neuro-enhancing drugs like Adderall. We dare not assume the stance that "my student would never do such a thing." But we can go further than raising awareness. We can curb the demands and expectations we place on students and diffuse the temptation to take these drugs through learning and modeling "unhurried rhythms of grace."