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Are performance-enhancing drugs worth taking for studying?

By River Reporter Dec 6, 2012

Hannah Crompton

If you’re a third-year student like me, you will be stressing over Christmas.

Not because you haven’t bought any presents yet, but because you’ve got 10,000 essays to do and no time to breathe.

So I was delighted to find out that there are drugs out there to help you concentrate during your revision, essay writing and exams. This delight soon diminished when I read that these so-called ‘study-enhancing drugs’ were the likes of Ritalin and modafinil.

Ritalin is often prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) sufferers and modafinil is prescribed for narcolepsy (where a person suddenly falls asleep at inappropriate times) sufferers.

I’ve certainly had times where I’ve nearly fallen asleep on my laptop and questioned my eyesight when words appear to be squiggles, but never have I thought ‘hmm… I need to wake up a bit, let’s order some Ritalin’.

The alternative ways of staying awake

Instead I’ve reached for the Twinings, the crisp cupboard, zoned out watching poker on TV (don’t ask) or, most commonly, my iPhone to look at Twitter.

So why are increasing numbers of students taking these drugs?

These two drugs can improve short-term memory in ADHD sufferers, and modafinil can help reduce impulsive behaviour in people who struggle to get enough sleep.

Concequences of the drugs

Now, these sound fantastic to me, but what are worryingly ignored are the medical conditions associated with these presciption drugs.

If students taking these drugs are happy to experiment with them without a doctor’s consent, then one has to establish how badly universities are supporting these people in times of stress.

I think if we all had a think about this, the reason why we are knackered and can’t concentrate is because we’ve not had enough sleep, spent too long going over an essay question, got hammered the night before and thought it would be a great idea to check into hangover hotel and write 3,000 words on War and Peace, or we’re just not looking after our health and therefore can’t stay alert when we need to.

See a doctor

If you are genuinely tired all the time and not just lazy, it might be an idea to see your doctor

But until then, invest in a good set of pins to keep your eyes open, splash some water on your face and whack on some heavy metal, even if your flatmates are trying to sleep. 

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