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Smart Drugs, Unwise Users


Max Lister


In recent years, movies (such as Limitless), the media and societal pressures have caused both students and working people to turn to drugs to improve productivity and efficiency in their lives. It’s not a local phenomenon either, with American students abusing Adderall and European students turning to Modafinil.



You’re probably wondering what these are, so let me break it down for you. Adderall is the more serious drug, and although doctors prescribe it in the U.K. too, it is far less common than overseas. It comes in different names and brands, which in my opinion adds to the allure of these substances. People looking for a way to boost their work see bright colours and brand names and in my eyes this just preys on their basic consumer habits, making people want it more. The downside to this is that Adderall is an amphetamine based pill and although it has become normalised in the USA, it is similar in both structure and effect to many more illicit drugs. A big issue is the rate at which American doctors hand it out, to kids, teenagers, adults and practically anyone. It is highly addictive, meaning people tend to use Adderall for big chunks of their lives.



Over here in the United Kingdom, our doctors are much less inclined to prescribe these types of drugs. One of the reasons people turn to smart drugs is that they are often legal or semi-legal and thus people don’t feel like they are doing anything wrong, at least not in the eyes of the law. The impact of this is a whole wave of younger and older people using these drugs to boost their performance, making it a more widespread issue than most drugs, because these people who would usually be against drugs see almost no possibility of getting in trouble.


Modafinil is the smart drug of choice for students. A handful of years ago it was primarily used by university students, but increasing pressures have meant people of all ages are taking it, from those taking school school exams to the professors that mark them. In the U.K. Modafinil is a prescription only drug used to treat narcolepsy and fatigue. It’s prescription only legal status has meant for the thousands upon thousands of users, getting access to the drug is fairly straightforward and can be done after a few google searches.



Now, I am not here to dictate what people should and shouldn’t do. I believe people should be able to choose how they live their lives, but, I would advise people against taking these so-called ‘smart drugs’, because in the long-term they will only cause you more issues than you started with. Take an example of a university student who is struggling to keep up. After a few weeks or months of taking Modafinil to catch up on coursework, they’ll soon find without it they feel slower and less motivated to do work. What happens if you can’t get the drugs anymore and you have a deadline coming up? It is a pathway to more problems because people soon become dependent on them; it only takes a few searches of news articles to hear some of the stories of people who have had serious problems with these substances.


As smart as it sounds, choosing to take smart drugs on a regular basis is more stupid than you could imagine. Maybe in the future the structure, designs and use of these types of drugs may become accepted and perfected, but for now they are just a huge risk and have way too many downsides.

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