Neuroenhancing drugs, such as Adderall and Ritalin, are popular with college students who want to study and party, but not necessarily sleep or eat, writes Margaret Talbot in The New Yorker. Research in 2005 estimated 4.1 percent of undergrads “had taken prescription stimulants for off-label use; at one school, the figure was twenty-five per cent. ”
. . . white male undergraduates at highly competitive schools—especially in the Northeast—are the most frequent collegiate users of neuroenhancers. Users are also more likely to belong to a fraternity or a sorority, and to have a G.P.A. of 3.0 or lower. . . . they are decent students at schools where, to be a great student, you have to give up a lot more partying than they’re willing to give up.
Most students who use stimulants get them from an acquaintance diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder who has prescription. Since students have grown up with classmates on ADHD meds, they assume they’re safe.
For us elders, “smart pills” may prevent cognitive decline — or make it possible to work harder for longer. The undrugged may not be able to compete.