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Studying for BEC Leads a CPA Exam Candidate to Drugs

We don’t have any CPA exam questions in the mailbag this week (you slackers) so we’re resorting yet again to trolling the CPAnet forums for good questions. Here’s an excellent one:

I’ve never had an issue studying, I guess it’s mainly because I always had a logical way of figuring stuff out and completing it extremely quick (which is why REG and AUD were so easy). However, BEC is making a fool of me. I can’t seem to figure out how to attack it, and am severely lacking motivation to study it.

I’ve used adderall a few times, and man d, I’ve had a recent serotonin problem .. and now if I take it, it actually triggers panic attacks which I try to avoid like the plague.

Do you guys have any other suggestions?

If you grew up in the 90s, chances are you knew at least a handful of kids diagnosed with ADD and prescribed Ritalin or other amphetamine-based prescription drugs to treat this “condition.” I graduated high school in 1998 and at that point, several enterprising young men and women in my class were funding their car payments by selling their prescriptions to classmates.

Drugs like Adderall and Ritalin are central nervous system stimulants that artificially force dopamine (the natural “happy drug” in your brain usually released when you are doing something you enjoy like reading Going Concern, writing your resignation letter or sleeping with randoms in your office) to the synapses in your brain. This creates the thrill, so you, in turn, look at studying as something enjoyable. Under the influence of these drugs, you could, in theory, also equally enjoy a root canal, colonoscopy, or your 12th straight hour of busy season gruntwork. Perhaps not ironically, this chemical reaction is similar to the one created in your brain when you fall in love.

The problem with taking Adderall to study for the CPA exam (as opposed to taking it to study for finals in college) is that your brain retains exam information better in smaller pieces over a longer period of time. You simply cannot “cram” for the CPA exam. Not to mention the fact that it’s illegal if you’re buying someone else’s prescription and you are supposed to represent the profession in an ethical manner but we won’t get into that.

Instead, try some of these tips to grease your brain up for studying. Trust us, you’ll be happier and healthier in the long run, though maybe not as unusually happy in the short-term.

Try Omega-3s: While the research is a bit sketchy, it is believed that Omega-3 fatty acids improve general brain function and can positively impact memory. You can find Omega-3s in salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, flax oil, and walnuts or take a quality fish oil supplement daily.

Avoid simple carbs
: Simple carbohydrates like white bread are instantly converted to sugar in your body, filling you with empty calories. Too much sugar at once can actually starve your brain of the glucose it needs to function properly, negatively affecting memory and concentration. Instead, try to eat more complex carbohydrates like peanuts, dried apricots, dried beans and yogurt and stay away from quick fixes like candy.

Eat breakfast: If you are working and studying for the CPA exam, breakfast is probably something you haven’t seen in months or years but numerous studies prove that breakfast has a positive effect on how your brain performs. And if you’re a girl, you might want to try oatmeal instead of cereal, it could improve your short-term memory.

Caffeine is OK, in moderation: Caffeine works in a similar way to Adderall except much milder, in moderation. If you must get a fix, try to avoid sugary energy drinks and stick to plain coffee. Adding flavored cream or sugar to coffee adds empty calories that you might regret once you’re actually done with the exam and needing to shed the extra 10 or even 20 pounds you packed on during studying.

Do Accounting Firms Care if You’re On Drugs?

Recent data suggests that Wall Street types are still doing drugs with unsurprisingly regularity but their tastes have changed with the seriousness of the times.

That is, they’ve traded in the hard-charging llelo fueled days of ’06 – ’07 with a more reserved and apathetic ganja attitude of ’09 – ’10. Trading coke for pot. Blow foe all know that accountants follow/chase the money so we can safely assume that their proclivities for drug usage have followed suit.

However, you rarely hear about drug abuse problems at accounting firms. So where is all this drug use happening? Apparently, it’s going down at REITs:

The highest levels of abuse seem to be at real estate investment trust companies, a sector that, incidentally, does more random testing than others.

But the test results generally capture drug use among new hires, candidates who knew that they would likely be tested. Random drug testing is rare, according to a spokesman for a bulge-bracket bank who asked to remain unnamed.

Among existing employees, psychologists and counselors say that drug abuse has not slackened. Some even say it is peaking, exacerbated by the credit crisis and the volatile and tenuous recovery that has ensued.

As the article states, random drug testing is already rare but where it happens the least isn’t mentioned.

But like we said, you rarely hear about the drug use that goes on at accounting firms. Which makes us wonder if it’s because it’s not happening period. To our knowledge – accounting firms don’t give employees drug tests as a condition of employment and simply defer to clients who require them (a certain Swiss Bank with proximity to shroom burgers comes to mind).

We’re not suggesting that every Big 4 office is like Bernie Madoff’s north pole but there’s enough of it happening that there is a presence within the firms.

It’s no surprise. You Big 4 types (and anyone at a CPA firm for that matter) go through your personal hell on a seasonal (or maybe a constant) basis so there’s probably a direct correlation with your usage and the time of year. For example – that tax manager that manages to work night after night after night with amazing focus as the final 2010 deadlines draw near? You think they just plug themselves in when they finally go home to recharge for the next day?

Plus, as you’re acutely aware, it’s not just the illegal drugs that are popular, “[T]he rage these days is a Pez dispenser with the head of a red devil. Inside? Pills of Oxycodone or Percocet.” And don’t forget the people that have been popping Adderall since college so they can study for 12 straight hours. That has simply carried over into the 14-15 hour days for X amount of consecutive days during busy season.

And don’t get us started on people who get addicted to fast food (a drug in its own right) in order to save time and eat at their desks. The chemicals in the food from [pick your chain] are just as addictive as any drug off the street or from the pharmacy and cause just as much damage to our bodies.

But as you’ve no doubt heard over and over in the peanut gallery, getting your work done is ultimately what matters. Come hell or high water. Come dependancy, insane weight loss or insane weight gain. And lots of people do whatever it takes to cope with that reality.

So? What’s the scoop these days inside your firm? Are drug tests just a section of your offer letter that you agree to, only to be never reminded of it again? Anyone every been tested? We understand that no one is operating heavy machinery out there but bad things can still happen, quite possibly in the name of client service.

Wall Street Kicks Coke in Favor of Pot and Pills [FINS]