Prescription Drugs: the new brain booster

Fitness Expert

Will Ritalin be the new memory drug?

A recent poll taken from Nature journal suggests that about one fifth of adults, including college students could be using prescription drugs daily as cognitive enhancers.

One in five of the 1,400 adults that took the Nature journal survey admitted that they had taken Ritalin, Provigil, or beta-blockers for reasons other than medical. Most admitted to using the drugs to enhance concentration, focus, or memory.

Of the one in five adults that admitted to taking prescription drugs for these reasons 62% had tried Ritalin (a drug designated to treat hyperactive children), and 44% Provigil (a drug designed to alleviate daytime drowsiness for narcolepsy patients).

Most of these drugs being prescribed are to treat some sort of mental illness. Ritalin being at the top of the drug list, worries Neuropsychologist Professor Barbara Sahakian of Cambridge University. Sahakian has done studies on Ritalin in her own work, and her studies show that 17% of students at some universities in the US admit to having used the drug. She believes that these numbers are high, and that they may continue to rise if something isn't done. She says, "Methylphenidate does have substantial abusive potential so we have to be worried about substance abuse problems and the use of these drugs in the developing brain in children."

However, some may disagree with Sahakian. John Harris, a bioethics professor at the University of Manchester, is a prime example. He says, "if these cognitive enhancing drugs make our lives better and make us better able to concentrate and better able to perform, this would surely be a good thing."

But in the long run, do we all want our stimulations to come by drug enhancements? Surely, there would be health hazards in the long run to taking these drugs, and that feel of need for the drug that doesn't suit the naturalistic human lifestyle.