Students aren’t the only ones who are loving smart drugs. About one in five British professors has admitted to popping the occasional pill to get through their piles of essays.
The increasing use of smart drugs among students has already been a point of concern for some academics. The main worries surrounding the smart drugs are the lack of research into long-term effects, and the possible disadvantage students who do not use concentration boosters might experience.
While some academics express their concerns, some of their colleagues gladly partake in the ritual. As many as one in five academics admitted to using drugs such as modifinil to increase focus, Cambridge professor Hannah Critchlow says. Such drugs are typically designed for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s, narcolepsy or attention disorders.
“They take them to help with their grant writing”
“They are taking them in the hope it will help with the revision for their exams,” Critchlow explains in her talk at Hay Festival: “They do seem to increase working memory. One in five academic professors also admit to taking them, so in order to help with their grant writing and committee meeting concentrating.”
“The use of modafinil by students is just the tip of the iceberg”
Making grading fun
“The use of modafinil by students is just the tip of the iceberg,” says Rachel, a lecturer in social sciences at a university in south-east England, to Vice: “It seems bad to say, but grading essays is quite dull work. But with modafinil it’s brilliant,” Rachel continues. “My concentration is phenomenal, and my brain never gets tired. My eyes can just skim over the page, and I’ll take it all in. I’m better at writing comments—on modafinil, I go into serious detail. I get it done twice as quick and I feel cheerful about doing it.”
“Super Mondays are the best day of my week”
But Rachel doesn’t just use modifinil for going through essays. She also uses it to make her administrative work more fun. “I call it ‘Super Monday.’ It’s the best day of my week.” Still, Critchlow advises caution in the use of such smart drugs, especially for students: “What exactly the drugs will be doing for a healthy young brain — where there are lots of changes going on — the long-term effects of these drugs are not known yet.”
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