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by Angela Hartley | January 9, 2017

Smart Drugs — Fact or Fiction?

A lot can be said about the idea of “smart drugs” all thanks to Hollywood and pop culture referencing them — from the movies Lucy (2014) to Limitless (2011) and the adapted TV series of the latter (2015). It is certainly fascinating, to say the least, of the sheer possibility that just by taking a pill our brains could gain enhanced superhuman capacities that would allow us to think faster, perform better, and ultimately be smarter in a matter of seconds.

Even though such drug-taking solution does not seem innocuous — which is typical of Hollywood — the possibilities still make us wonder whether or not in the near future we could all be taking something as simple as a small pill to contribute to our success.

Recent development of prescription pills for narcolepsy has allegedly been proven to be successful smart drugs.

  • But are there any side effects? Can anybody use them without any risks? Can we consider this a new way of boosting our intellectual game, or are we just falling for the same corrupt ways which athletes who take steroids fall into?

Despite the moral or ethical considerations we might hold against these types of drugs, curiosity about them is all over nowadays.

Wouldn’t you like to — at least — know that the opportunity to be smarter by taking a pill is not out of reach?

There has been widespread of information about the so-called smart drugs because seemingly, we’ve finally conquered the safe smart drugs.

The thing about these pills is that even though they are not fictional, their effects have been greatly exaggerated. Evidently, no pill is going to make you turn into a USB driver device, but nevertheless, some say that the pills do make you smarter.

Used by Students, CEOs, and Military?

One such example of a pill is modafinil, which is one of the many drugs including Ritalin, Adderal, and Concerta, that are increasingly being used by healthy adults to improve productivity.

College students even seek alternatives to be able to produce more and excel at their activities. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise with folks in high-demanding stressful professions taking these drugs to boost their respective performance.

Some users say that when Moda –which is short for ‘Modafinil’- appear, it was the new Adderal or Ritalin, but without that sense of euphoria that comes from those other pills. (https://news.vice.com/article/users-say-the-smart-drug-modafinil-is-the-new-adderall-only-better)

But it’s not only students in the academic world and workaholics in the corporate world who use smart drugs, but also the military usage has changed and shifted. With no rebound effects, the drugs do seem perfect for military usage.

It’s no secret that the military uses such drugs and openly talks about the need for them as a mean to completing missions with a clear, focused, and alert mind. (https://hbr.org/2016/05/like-it-or-not-smart-drugs-are-coming-to-the-office)

Side Effects and Unknown

The advantages of smart drugs may seem limitless – but do have their limits.

For instance, the side effects are still not very clear and it could be years from now before we know about them. Yet according to advocates, these smart drugs have no side effects, but not everybody can make that a true statement.

(Remember when doctors used to prescribe cigarettes? No, because it was years ago.)

There will be people whose body won’t be able to process the drugs and have bad episodes of terrible side effects — just like poor Benjamin Zand (http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35091574) — and experienced no real results in increased cognitive abilities.

In the U.S., it is illegal to buy these pills unless you’re diagnosed with the symptoms associated with the medical intended purposes of these drugs.

But isn’t this illegal (at least in U.S.) usage of the pills also cheating?

  • Let’s say if you slack off during a whole semester or if your boss is pointing out that you’re being lazy in the workplace, and you desperately hope to find the solution for all your troubles in a smart pill, you might want to reconsider doing something illegal and also, morally reproachable.

Besides, you will also potentially endanger your health, since long-term effects of most of these drugs intended for prescription use are unknown, and you could end up in the E.R., as cases of overdose have triplicated from 2008 to 2011. (http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/08/the-rise-of-work-doping/402373)

Are Smart Drugs Right for You?

The first thing you’ll need to ask yourself then would be: “Am I physically able to take this risk?”

  • You’ll want to go through extensive medical testing to see if your liver, amongst other organs, can actually support the drug use. (That is, if you really want to be careful and avoid the risky side effects you may encounter. Keep in mind that most of the studies out there which show zero to few side effects were done in controlled environments and only looked at the effects of one dose.)
  • You’ll also have to be conscious of the fact that you may even not experience any significant changes in your cognitive abilities.

But then again, you actually might see results and have zero side effects.

With that said, tests results for the “smart drug,” modafinil, did show improvement in decision-making, planning abilities, flexible thinking, and information processing, but the drug didn’t seem to change the creative aspect of the brain in either way. (http://www.europeanneuropsychopharmacology.com/article/S0924-977X(15)00249-7/abstract)

Maybe or maybe not these pills are tickets to a more productive business and academic life. Nevertheless, what is certain is that they are expected to grow in popularity amongst young adults in colleges and in competitive jobs who need high levels of productivity.

If you are still wanting to go down this path of gaining a mental edge through the use of smart drugs, then do so with carefulness and a critical eye.

by Angela Hartley

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  • Guilherme says:

    Most of us heard about smart drugs because of movies.

  • Bennett says:

    You should check out my site, I tried doing a bit of search engine optimisation but it didn’t work well though
    I have added you in my reading bookmarks, keep up the good posts!

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