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Study drugs are finding their way into the workplace

If you could take a pill that, with minimal side effects, could help you concentrate, make better decisions, work more efficiently, and be more creative, would you take it? Study drugs are now part of the workplace. Time to discuss.

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Red pill or blue pill?

If you could take a pill that, with minimal side effects, could help you concentrate, make better decisions, work more efficiently, and be more creative, would you take it?

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An advantage over your colleagues

It seems that many people would, as more and more students and workers are using prescription drugs, not to treat the condition they are prescribed for, but to enhance their performance in work or school.

“Smart drugs” or “study drugs” are prescribed for cognitive and neurological conditions such as ADHD and narcolepsy, but some people without those conditions find them effective for increasing concentration and efficiency while studying or working.

The estimate that 20 percent of Ivy League students have tried “smart drugs” is probably conservative. The Financial Times reports that smart drugs are “becoming popular among city lawyers, bankers, and other professionals keen to gain a competitive advantage over colleagues.”

Enhancing creativity and focus

The most common smart drugs in past decades have been Adderall and Ritalin, both prescribed for ADHD. Recently, a narcolepsy drug called Modafinil has become popular. A study by Harvard Medical School and Oxford found that Modafinil, when administered to test subjects who do not have narcolepsy, enhances creativity and attention, and makes it easier to learn, plan, and make decisions. According to their research, Modafinil also has “vanishingly few side effects,” making it a relatively safe way to enhance cognitive performance.

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In fact, the U.S. military is even experimenting with Modafinil to help soldiers stay away when they’ve been pushed to exhaustion.

Despite Modafinil’s relative safety, it’s still illegal to possess it in the United States without a prescription. Other smart drugs, such as Adderall and Ritalin, can cause problems, such as disrupting your sleep cycle. It can also be very dangerous to drink alcohol with some of these drugs, so if you are using them, think about skipping Happy Hour after work.

Is it ethical?

Besides the question of safety, the popularity of smart drugs also raises ethical concerns. We don’t like our athletes artificially enhancing their bodies with steroids and other drugs – is enhancing work place or student performance any different?

Many universities have addressed the issue in their academic integrity policies, and consider these drugs to be a form of cheating.

It’s hard to say what effect these drugs could have on the workplace. They could be a great way for under-performing employees to catch up. They might also reduce workplace stress by helping employees finish tasks more efficiently so that they can truly relax at the end of the day. On the other hand, employees on smart drugs could gain an unfair competitive edge, setting the bar artificially high, for workers without drugs, who must then scramble to catch up, or start popping pills themselves.

Are you, or your employees using smart drugs to enhance workplace performance?

#SmartDrugs

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Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Ryan Michael Ballow

    June 16, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    Indeed the industry is exploding. It’s fairly simple: if a person recognizes that they can alter their cognition, positively, with minimal side effects (in the case of Modafinil), they’re going to strongly consider it. Especially if it helps give them the edge in work place/academic scenarios.

    The market for nootropics is expanding massively, and this is JUST the beginning. The idea of ethics is sort of an odd question. Is it ethical to consume caffeine? Well – caffeine binds to a neurotransmitter receptor, tricking that receptor into believing it is in fact a neurotransmitter (called Adenosine), which, as a result, promotes wakefulness. Nootropics/smart drugs are literally no different; they have different mechanisms of action, but the same basic concept underlies their efficacy. They modulate neurotransmitters/receptor sites.

    Source: Nootropics user for 6 years, created a commercial nootropic called Cortex.

  2. Pingback: Regulatory Roundup, June 17, 2016 | Texas Mutual Insurance Company News Update

  3. gautam

    July 12, 2016 at 11:49 pm

    Smart drugs are good as long as one does not get addicted to them,

  4. Piracetam

    December 20, 2017 at 4:51 am

    Study drugs or smart drugs are playing important role in life. They are natural and risk free to use. Yes, I am also agree with Gautam that one should not get addicted to them.

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