One in five people who responded to a survey in Nature magazine, a technical bioscience journal, admitted to using prescription drugs to improve their memory, focus or concentration.
More than 1,400 people responded to the online survey sponsored by the magazine, in which they were asked about three specific prescription drugs: Ritalin (used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adults, but commonly used as a recreational study drug in colleges around the world), Provigil (prescribed to treat sleep disorders, but used to guard against jet lag or fatigue) and beta blockers (which are supposed to treat high blood pressure, but can be used to keep anxiety attacks at bay).
Among the three drugs, Ritalin was by far the most popular, with 62 percent of drug users admitting to taking the drug. Provigil came in second, with 44 percent of users reporting using the substance. Only 15 percent of those who responded confessed to taking beta blockers, but the results of the survey clearly show that many of the users take a combination of the drugs.
The results of the survey came as a surprise to many, as there wasn’t a variance in drug use in different age groups. Previously, the school of thought had always been that the majority of drug users fell into the 18- to 25-year-old group. Although roughly half of the respondents reported experiencing side effects (such as headaches and jitteriness), it appears as though the side effects did not correlate with a decrease in the frequency of use.
The most common reason for taking the drugs was to improve concentration, with “enhancing focus on a specific task” coming in at a close second. Patterns of use were split evenly between monthly, weekly and daily use. Interestingly, although many of the drugs are designed to treat children, 86 percent of those involved in the survey said that kids should be restricted from using them.