Home News Smart Drugs: Should study medication be sold over the counter to students?
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Smart Drugs: Should study medication be sold over the counter to students?

Smart Drugs: Should study medication be sold over the counter to students?
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It can be argued that drugs which enhance academic performance and studying ability have been a part of university life for a considerable amount of time, as sleeping pills; Kalms herbal remedies and caffeine gum or tablets are usually pulled out the drawer during the period. Other cases, although not strictly drugs, can be seen in endless coffee or energy drinks, consumed to stay alert whilst studying.

This week, medical professionals, such as Cambridge Professor Dr Barbara Sahakian, have been arguing that licensing ‘study drugs’, as they are referred to as, might possibly be a very good idea. She has called for the cognitive enhancing drugs to be assessed and possibly marketed in Boots as medication that boosts academic performance.

Sahakian has also called for more education and information on the drugs, which she believes could be used safely and effectively if more time and effort is put into their research.

These comments come in the wake of the UK government shutting down sites that sell enhancement drugs such as modafinil, whilst many universities in America have them banned.

Sahakian argues that if people are buying them anyway from illegal sites, then surely they are in more danger as they know very little of the dosage or how the drug will affect them. Sahakian also comments on the dangerous alternative: tremendous amounts of caffeinated drinks consumed by students that carry the risk of heart palpitations.

The drug, modafinil, has been known to fuel many students through long days, especially gruelling days for science students in labs. Although the drug is being used currently, many people are not aware of the side effects. For example, if one was to take the drug every day during exam season, it could cause intense anxiety as soon as the user came off the medication.

With the drugs available online for as little as 70p a pill, medical experts are calling for more research to be carried out to educate young people on the medication.

Modafinil in its most simple description is an enhancement drug, with many students arguing that it should be encouraged as a pill that simply helps you concentrate a bit more. Yet, with little research carried out, little knowledge explored by students and countless companies selling the medication cheaply online, are medical professionals right? Do we need to encourage the drug to be sold out in the open, or banned all together?

Elizabeth Whittingham Elizabeth is a third year history student studying at The University of Manchester.

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