For thousands of eons, students have relied on stimulants to keep them focused and alert. Fire, Ritalin, nicotine, coffee and walrus blubber – most effective in that order – have all been utilized as academic enhancing drugs. Illegal drugs used to enhance one’s focus appear to be on the decline, and are being replaced by the overwhelming popularity of easily attainable energy drinks.

There are some ups and downs to this stimulant alternative. To the chagrin of many of my peers, it is most definitely illegal to use Adderall or Ritalin without a prescription. Even a note from your mother can’t get you out of it this time – although, it surprisingly can help you acquire a pink spotted emu from the flat plains of Zimbabwe.

Cocaine can also be used as an academic enhancing drug, but I heard some undomesticated rumor that it might be illegal. And for any of you young kids reading this, freebasing walrus blubber will only lead to the destruction of your lives and the lives of others around you.

Here is a list of the most caffeine dense substances, many of which can be found on the UR campus: Starbucks double shot, Brewed Coffee, Sobe’s No Fear, Red Bull, Rockstar, Tab Energy Drink, Full Throttle, Monster, Instant Coffee and Coca-Cola Blak.

Even if caffeine is legal, it does share some of the same side effects as its stimulant brethren. Caffeine, amphetamines (Ritalin and Adderall) and cocaine all have addictive effects and extensive use causes heart issues. Doctors have rated caffeine at a “Tamagotchi” addiction level, where other stimulants seem to be ranked at a higher “Beanie Baby” level of obsession.

Caffeine is a much safer alternative. Yet, studies seem to indicate that wearing a seatbelt or personal flotation device might reduce the risk factor involved with other stimulants.

Always remember that the absurdity of college is most undoubtedly amplified by the intense amount of unfocused energy or burnt-out-after-test-experiences induced before and after the use of caffeine.

College is a time for extremes and caffeine seems to be our special decoder ring that gives us our power. Although it might be safer to get more sleep, it’s not as fun as twitching on the floor of the library at 2:59 a.m. in a caffeine induced coma.

Stahl is a member of

the class of 2009.

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