Brain Gain: The Underground World of 'Neuroenhancing' Drugs

The off-label use of neuroenhancing drugs such as Provigil (modafanil), Adderall (mixed amphetamines), or Ritalin (methylphenidate) is a fact of life and a growing practice in high schools, colleges and universities and in the business world. These drugs are apparently not difficult to obtain, either with a prescription written by a compliant physician, diversion from a family member diagnosed with ADHD, or from Internet sources. Margaret Talbot describes the extent to which these so-called 'smart pills' are being used now, and raises questions about the extent to which they may have harmful side effects or be addictive. Do they constitute an unfair advantage akin to the use of anabolic steroids by athletes? Should they be constrained for that reason? Will we soon be asking our students to pee in a cup before tests? Professors and teachers may be as susceptible as their students to the temptation to try these drugs. Under pressure to complete a manuscript or a proposal, how many will resist the temptation to gain hours of productive work, or clarity of thought? This article makes clear that our society has not yet begun to deal with the consequences of these drugs and their successors.

Publication information
Pick Attribution: 

Margaret Talbot

Publication Date: 
Thursday, April 9, 2009