It may not be surprising in our latte-fueled hyper-fast society to find that many healthy people are turning to stimulants at work or school.
There has been a 300 percent increase in the production and supply of stimulants such as Ritalin in the U.S. between 1995 and 2006. A commentary in Sunday’s journal Nature, argues that drugs in health adults is a legitimate way of obtaining an edge in improving brain power.
The experts don’t all agree.
“In the United States, stimulant medications are widely abused,” Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse told Reuters.
Volkow said campus surveys show the drugs of choice on campus are Ritalin (Novartis), and Provigil (Cephalon). Provigil or modafinil is also prescribed for narcolepsy. It’s estimated anywhere from seven to 25 percent of students on college campuses have used prescription stimulants.
As students and employees are increasingly using drugs to enhance cognitive performance, the consensus is that this is not going to go away. Is it drug abuse? Some feel that if the drugs are proven safe they might actually serve a purpose.
“We should welcome new methods of improving our brain function,” says Henry Greely of Stanford Law to Reuters.
Debating all of these questions will be a gathering of experts and scientists this week in Nashville, Tennessee at a meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.
Ritalin (methylphenidate), is a medication prescribed commonly to children for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHA , characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention or impulsivity.
Stimulants work by increasing dopamine levels in the brain. The neurotransmitter is associated with pleasure, movement and attention, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Stimulant use can lead to serious cardiovascular complications including stroke, increased blood pressure, heart rate, and a decrease in sleep and appetite.
Fatigue, depression, and disturbed sleep pattern can emerge when the drugs are withdrawn.
Parents claim that there have been 186 deaths from Ritalin (methylphenidate) reported to the FDA MedWatch program.
Teenagers say it’s easier to get prescription drugs than beer, according to the 13th annual survey on attitudes about drug abuse, published by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. #