What Are Performance-Enhancing Drugs?
Why Take Prescription Drugs
Prescription drugs on many names like Smart Drugs, Brain Boosters, Learning Drugs, Smart Pills, Neuroenhancers but they all promote an increase in attention, memory or concentration. In the US, more than one million students use performance-enhancing drugs. While in Germany, on average, every fifth student takes smart drugs, to help them concentrate better and lasts longer during studying.
But what are these learning drugs made of and what are their risks?
Psychostimulants: Uses, Risks and Side Effects
Methylphenidate is the active ingredient and the most common brain dopant. They are under the brand names Ritalin, Concerta or Medikinet as a treatment for ADHD.
Methylphenidate imitates amphetamine by enhancing the two neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine. This raises the alertness, concentration and attention of healthy individuals. This effect is specifically noticeable in exhausted people.
Many studies have examined the effect of Ritalin on healthy individuals and they came to different conclusions. In some researches, healthy individuals performed better under medication with Ritalin but worse in others. While in old people Ritalin showed no effect at all.
Ritalin also has significant side effects: The participants started working instantly and are focused on a single task. But Ritalin users feel like a robot; they can hardly identify themselves in their feelings and perceptions.
The adverse effects of methylphenidate range from increased blood pressure, poor appetite, migraine, palpitations, nausea or vomiting, sleep disorders, euphoria and overconfidence to severe anxiety. US scientists have also discovered that taking Ritalin promotes hostile and suicidal behaviors. Some experts also caution against mental dependence.
Modafinil (Provigil) is another popular brain-doping drug. It is an anti-narcolepsy drug that treats sleepiness. The effects of Modafinil when used as performance-enhancing drug in school are not clear, though it slightly improves the attention span but slows down learning performance. But alertness and wakefulness are clearly proven. Provigil reduces the need for sleep, it is beneficial for workaholics and frequent flyers to prevent jet lag.
Side effects of Modafinil include nervousness, sleep disorders, headache, and depression. When used in high dosages, it can cause high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems, dizziness and tremors.
Enhanced Brain Comes with a Price
All of the medications mentioned above need prescription. If used beyond the actual field of application and without prescription, they are unlawful. The benefits are very limited and are partially offset by significant risks.
Methylphenidate and modafinil have numerous and harmful adverse effects. They are habit forming and can cause mental disorders from mood swings to mania and psychosis.
When taken for a long period of time, user will no longer want to do anything. The person’s emotional reactions are subdued. They lack interest, have no need for human connection and become less creative.
Even if taken in moderation, performance-enhancing drugs will later lead to several diseases and disorders when combined with the brain’s natural functions.
Herbal Medication in Replace of Prescription Drugs
Herbal remedies used to improve mental performance, concentration and memory have shown no to little side effects. They are easier to obtain through over-the-counter pharmacies, drug stores and even online.
Products containing citicoline, brahmi or bacopa, and ginkgo biloba are among that enhance brain function. They are dietary supplements that optimize mental performance.
There are medications that contain these substances but with less concentration which make them less effective. However, several products are out there that are natural brain boosters. They contain important vitamins, minerals and trace elements in addition to the plant extracts they already have. They naturally improve the mental performance without harmful side effects.
- Neuro-Enhancers: Faster World, Faster Brain
- Brain Enhancing Drugs for Better School Performance
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