The popular performance-enhancing ‘smart drug’ Modafinil is being made readily available for purchase in seminar and lecture rooms on campus at York, a student has told Nouse.
The prescription-only drug, used for treating narcolepsy and sleeping disorders, carries memory, processing and concentration benefits, and is increasingly accessible in campus spaces. The unauthorised sale of prescription drugs is a criminal offence in the UK.
The University has issued a statement that the sale of study drugs like Modafinil “will not be tolerated” on campus.
The second year student, who wished to remain nameless, told Nouse that Modafinil has been offered around in teaching spaces to students, and that its usage is becoming increasingly common. “I’ve been offered Modafinil by a friend in a lecture before,” the student said. “It’s readily available on campus.”
Modafinil can be sold for as little as 50p per tablet, with one pill providing as much as 12 hours of cognitive enhancement. While there are no known notable side effects of taking Modafinil, it can significantly disrupt sleep patterns.
“I know a number of students who use it regularly, particularly around exams,” the student said. The use of the drug is controversial and surrounded by an ethical debate about whether its use in enhancing performance to achieve qualifications mars academic parity.
Recent surveys have found that one in five students at the University of Manchester claim to have taken study drugs before; at Oxford University the statistic is one in four.
According to The Guardian, students are now also investing in ADHD medications to aid concentration. Increasingly popular are Ritalin (methylphenidate), Adderall (mixed amphetamine salts) and Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine).
On the ethics and legality of study drugs on campus, University Registrar and Secretary David Duncan commented: “We strongly recommend that students seek medical advice before taking so-called cognitive enhancers, nootropics or other forms of stimulant.
“Medical staff are best placed to advise on the possible side effects of such drugs. There is a wealth of information accessible via the Unity Health website – this might be a good place to start. The sale of prescription drugs without a prescription is illegal and will be not be tolerated on the University campus.”
Ben Leatham said he was “extremely concerned” by the news, commenting that “drugs like this are often bought illegally online with no guarantees about their quality or content.
“I know students feel under a huge amount of pressure – exam and deadline periods are tough – but at the end of the day drugs won’t get the work done for you.”