Students and “smart drugs”

Cognitive enhancing drugs, commonly called “smart drugs” or “study drugs.”, are becoming increasingly popular with students. Including drugs like Adderall and Ritalin, they are generally prescribed for attention-deficit disorder, but students who take them say the drug
boosts cognitive function and enables them to study for hours with full concentration without getting fatigued.

Cognitive enhancers don’t make you feel jittery or anxious, like when you drink strong coffee. The main source of the drug would appear to be students who have prescriptions to treat their attention-deficit disorder. However, although Adderall and Ritalin might sound like wonder drugs that can help students study for hours; the drugs are amphetamine-based (otherwise known as Speed). That means they can be habit-forming, and students using cognitive enhancing drugs could get addicted.
Martha J. Farah, director at the Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania has studied the use of Adderall and Ritalin on college campuses in America and collaborated on writing a recent commentary in the journal Nature. In the article, Farah
describes a college survey in which as many as 25 percent of students on some college campuses have used these study drugs in the past year. In Britain, researchers at Cambridge University recently examined the effects of modafinil, a drug available in Britain for people who fall asleep involuntarily, and found that it dramatically improved performance. They also found that some students believe that by not taking the drugs, they are compromising their academic performance.

Scientists have found the drugs increase the brain chemical dopamine. And as they target the brain’s reward centre, Farah says, there can be trouble. “These are serious drugs with serious side effects,” such as severe sleep deprivation and rare heart problems, she says. But most
importantly, she says, the drugs can be addictive. So be careful.


The Re:Vision Drug Policy Network is a national network of young
people speaking out for a humane drug policy. Our mission is “to work
with young people and interested organisations to create the belief
that a drug policy based on the ideas of human welfare and human
rights is both possible and necessary.”

Re:Vision Drug Policy Network
Steve Biko Building
Oxford Road
M13 9PR

One Response to “Students and “smart drugs””
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