It has come to light that a greater number of York students than expected are taking cognitive enhancement drugs (“nootropics”), including Modafinil, Ritalin and Adderall.
In the UK, Modafinil is not listed in the Misuse of Drugs Act, is not especially tightly controlled, and is available by prescription. It is legally obtainable from online pharmacies by simply filling out a form. It is a new drug, so we don’t know much about its long term effects, but the short term side effects are fairly well documented. Most notably the possibility of development of hypersensitivity reactions and neuropsychiatric disorders. On the other hand, Modafinil has a much lower addictive potential than Ritalin or Adderall.
A recent study reported on the ability of a mood-stabilising drug called Valproate to increase brain plasticity in adults. As a brain develops into adulthood it loses its plasticity, which is why babies and children can learn skills quickly and adults find it much harder. The study found people who took Valproate were significantly better at identifying the pitch of sounds, after 2 weeks of training, compared to those who took a placebo. Valproate can improve the learning of language as opposed to cognitive enhancers which increase concentration.
A fat-burning drug called DNP has been in the news recently, as the families of people who died after taking it are campaigning for it to be classified as class-C, criminalising both possession and supply. DNP was a popular and effective weight-loss drug in the 1930s but was quickly deemed too toxic for human consumption. In spite of over 60 DNP-related deaths, the product remains on sale illegally over the Internet.
Modafinil and other nootropics, through various different biological pathways, provide your body with what it needs to improve. DNP does the equivalent for weight-loss. At that level, they are no different from protein shakes, inhalers, vitamin supplementation or even food. In an age where drugs are taken to enhance everything from excercise to brain power, be prepared to do so for the rest of your life.