This is your brain on smart pills

Ambitious students are taking “smart pills” such as “Adderall, which was originally aimed at people with attention-deficit disorder, and Provigil, which was aimed at narcoleptics, who fall asleep uncontrollably,” reports the Washington Post. “In the healthy, this class of drugs variously aids concentration, alertness, focus, short-term memory and wakefulness — useful qualities in students working on complex term papers and pulling all-nighters before exams.”

About one in 10 students in seventh through 12th grade has used prescription stimulants, such as Ritalin, without a prescription, estimates a Partnership for a Drug-Free America survey. Half the students surveyed said they weren’t using the pills to get high; they want help with problems or tasks.

Students rarely overdose on smart pills, which wear off in a few hours.

Even if some of these drugs are amphetamines, it’s medicine parents give to 8-year-olds, students say. It’s brand-name stuff, in precise dosages. How bad can it be? Sure, there are problems with weight loss, sleep loss, jitters and throwing up, they say.

Weight loss is not going to dissuade many users. Popping a smart pill may become as routine as drinking a cup of coffee in the morning.

Current psychopharmaceuticals represent only the beginning of cognitive enhancers aimed at improving attention, reasoning, planning and even social skills.

The memory compounds being raced to market by four U.S. companies are initially aimed at the severely impaired, such as early-stage Alzheimer’s patients. But researchers expect the market for memory drugs to rapidly extend into the aging population we think of as normal, such as the more than 70 million baby boomers who are tired of forgetting what they meant to buy at the shopping mall and then realizing they’ve forgotten where they parked their cars, too.

The side effects don’t seem all that bad.

Via Granny J, who blogs she got a seven-letter word on her first turn in Scrabble and still lost to her 102-year-old mother.

About Joanne


  1. I took Adderall when I was studying for the LSATs. It doesn’t wear off in a couple of hours. It lasts all day.

    But it is a productive high. I got lots of work done when on it.

  2. Be interesting to see what happens when the second-generation smart drugs start to show up.