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Psychopharm Going 'Mainstream' In Schools? 717

PizzaFace writes "Back in the day, college was a place where a lot of kids tried recreational drugs. Now the world's more competitive, psychopharmaceuticals are better targeted, and millions of students are routinely using drugs to work better and longer. Stimulants developed for attention deficit and narcolepsy are giving mentally healthy students an edge like athletes get from steroids or human growth hormone. These psychotropics seem fairly safe, but should they be banned in the interest of fairness, perhaps with enforcement by urine tests before exams? Or do we tell our kids that, if they want to compete in this brave new world, they better find some Adderall and jack their brains up like their classmates'." If college students are doing it, how many programmers are? What say you?
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Psychopharm Going 'Mainstream' In Schools?

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  • Overkill (Score:5, Funny)

    by koh ( 124962 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @03:25PM (#15513435) Journal
    90% of current programmers probably do not use those drugs, since they're overkill for Visual Basic coding...

    • Re:Overkill (Score:5, Funny)

      by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara@hudson.barbara-hudson@com> on Sunday June 11, 2006 @03:42PM (#15513493) Journal

      90% of current programmers probably do not use those drugs, since they're overkill for Visual Basic coding...

      shouldn't that read ...

      90% of current programmers probably do use drugs, since you've gotta be on drugs to be coding in Visual Basic ...

      All kidding aside, if you count caffeine, I think you'll hit 99.99999 ... ah wtf, say 100%. Both programmers and school kids. Ditto for sugar.

    • Re:Overkill (Score:5, Informative)

      by devnull17 ( 592326 ) * on Sunday June 11, 2006 @05:17PM (#15513802) Homepage Journal

      90% of current programmers probably do not use those drugs, since they're overkill for Visual Basic coding...

      I wrote Visual Basic code for years, and I took Adderall twice a day. I (or rather my employment status) probably couldn't have survived without it.

      There's a common misunderstanding about stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin. They don't make you smarter or faster. They make you able to focus, and they make typically miserable tasks interesting. (Wiring database fields to GUI forms all day is boring, soul-crushing work, but well-paying, challenging jobs don't grow on trees.) They make you feel productive while performing the most menial tasks.

      The reason that students take Adderall to cram for exams isn't because it makes you smarter, but because it increases your attention span and allows you to focus on really dry subject matter, so you can study for longer. It also keeps you awake at times when even coffee could not--that, from what I've seen, is the only place where abuse of the drug occurs.

      This is anecdotal, but I know a lot of people who took unprescribed Adderall in college. Most of them have never touched any other illicit drugs, but they find the substance useful, and it doesn't seem to cause any harm. I really don't see the rationale for making it illegal for adults without ADD.

      • Re:Overkill (Score:3, Insightful)

        by koh ( 124962 )

        There's a common misunderstanding about stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin. They don't make you smarter or faster. They make you able to focus, and they make typically miserable tasks interesting. (Wiring database fields to GUI forms all day is boring, soul-crushing work, but well-paying, challenging jobs don't grow on trees.) They make you feel productive while performing the most menial tasks.

        I am genuinely intrigued by this. You appear to be saying that programming is a menial task (or is it only VB pr

      • Re:Overkill (Score:5, Insightful)

        by KanSer ( 558891 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @10:52PM (#15514842)
        The class of drug Adderal and Ritalin belong to has another name.

        SPEED. They are fucking hard drugs. You want to talk about a gateway drug? Jesus Christ.

        America seriously needs to wake the fuck up from its asinine hypocrisy. We have fucking hard liquor advertizing on FUCKING RACE CARS. Every body and their mother is addicted to Caffeine. We are such a drug culture that it's such an absolute joke how much money we spend on the 'war on drugs'.


        Big diff, right?

        Now the meat of the argument is that I think it should all be legal for adults. My huge problem is the generation of children we have gotten started on speed. We have 10 million teen-age addicts. 10 million kids intimately familiar with the street value of their little bottle of pills.

        10 million kids with the taste of speed in their mouths. Does that not scare anyone else?
        • Re:Overkill (Score:3, Insightful)

          by binarybum ( 468664 )
          But we're not talking about recreational drugs here. We're talking performance enhancing compounds. Sure, I'd choose sleep over caffeine any day, but in my world that probably wouldn't get me ahead, in fact if I slept as much as I should I probably couldn't even make the status quo. It's one thing to tell kids to entertain themselves with their toys and then allow them to entertain themselves with recreational drugs when they are mature enough to use them wisely. However, how can we expect our kids to g
          • Re:Overkill (Score:3, Interesting)

            by MrZaius ( 321037 )
            When he said that Ritalin and Adderall were in the same class of drug as Speed, he was suggesting they could serve as gateway drugs to mephamphetamine [] use. This is not just a recreational drug. There are many, many reports of the drug being used as a performance enhancing drug. It's even present in the IT industry. I wasn't able to find a link, but I know Wired Magazine has run at least one article about meth use by programmers/IT workers.

            Ritalin and Adderall are controlled substances for a reason.
        • Re:Overkill (Score:4, Funny)

          by damiena ( 263598 ) on Monday June 12, 2006 @01:04AM (#15515257)


          Big diff, right?

        • Re:Overkill (Score:3, Informative)

          by deuterium ( 96874 )
          10 million kids with the taste of speed in their mouths. Does that not scare anyone else?

          Not particularly.
          I think that you're overstating the case to say that Ritalin is speed. Ritalin has a much slower onset, and therefore is not as reinforcing. Kids with genuine ADD actually tend to feel "better" off of the drug, and ADD kids who were treated with Ritalin prove less likely to abuse illegal drugs later in life than those left untreated. Ritalin has been researched and reviewed more than almost any other dr
  • by daeg ( 828071 )
    Two wrongs don't make a right. If you are going to punish someone, punish the parents (for minors). How are these kids getting drugs, anyway?
    • Re:Hm (Score:2, Informative)

      by Faustust ( 819471 )
      Step 1: They are getting them from other kids who have a prescription. Step 2: Their parents find out and punish them for taking others' prescription medications. Step 3: Parents find out it will help their kids in school and at home. They convince the doctor to give their kid a prescription. Step 4: PROFIT! Step 5: See Step 1.
    • Re:Hm (Score:2, Funny)

      by kfg ( 145172 )
      How are these kids getting drugs, anyway?

      They buy them?

    • Re:Hm (Score:3, Informative)

      by idonthack ( 883680 )
      Usually from a friend with a prescription. Parents usually have no idea because there are no signs and the kids don't have to go anywhere special to get it.
    • How are these kids getting drugs, anyway?

      Were you homeschooled or something? Seriously, if you dont' know how kids (especially colledge students) get drugs, who are you to suggest who to punish?
    • Drugs are good! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by FhnuZoag ( 875558 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @05:01PM (#15513766)
      Most of the commentators have latched on to the drugs are bad conclusion, so maybe it's time for some devil's advocating... Suppose a drug is invented that has almost no adverse side effect - would it be ok to take it?

      There's an assumption in most people's responses that drugs must inherently have a bad sideeffect. That the badness of the side effect is in general proportion to the benefits obtained. Hence, it cannot be good to take X, because X must have a hidden side effect that cancels out any advantages it may provide. Such reasoning may be true when we were kids and were having the 'Drugs -just say NO' message drummed into us, but they aren't going to be true forever. And it's not as though the 'healthy' alternatives are really perfect, either. Exercise to improve fitness is fraught with physical risks. Increased study to boost academics hurts social lives, and may well have a greater cumulative harm than impotence 30 years down the line. (At least, if you've been taking drugs, you've actually slept with someone in that time) How many teenage suicides would have been averted if the victim was taking recreational drugs, and kept taking them? (So no withdrawal symptoms...)

      If we look at things in a certain way, there is no special evil associated with using chemicals to achieve some effect over carrying out some other activity. As technology improves, the lines are bound to blur even further.
  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @03:28PM (#15513444)
    Maybe we need to get Nancy Reagan out of the 80's closet just tell everyone to say NO to the drugs. It's bad enough in California that you have to show ID to buy cough medicine and be limited to two packages, while I can walk into a cloud of pot smoke at my apartment complex even when the police are nearby.
    • by xlyz ( 695304 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @03:31PM (#15513452) Journal

      while I can walk into a cloud of pot smoke at my apartment complex even when the police are nearby

      is this a bug or a feature?
    • by tsm_sf ( 545316 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @03:36PM (#15513470) Journal
      Well, one is a mildly psychoactive drug that's fairly harmless in moderate quantities. The other is used in the manufacture of an extremely physically and socially destructive substance. Sounds like the cops and politicians in your area are on the ball... have you seen what meth does to people?
      • Actually, I think he was referring to DXM containing cough medicine. The kind kids chug/eat to "trip." But yeah, I'd rather see them smoking a little pot. DXM is a little more dangerous.

        • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @04:33PM (#15513681)
          It's pseudoephedrine. That is, apparantly, one of the primary ingrediants in meth. So they decided that any OTC medication containing pseudoephedrine will no long be something you can simply walk in and buy. You still need no perscription, but you have to go to the pharmacist, fill out a form, have your ID checked, and then you may buy one box only.

          Fuck that, too much effort. Next allergy season my doctor has said she'll just write me a 4 month perscription of Allegra.

          At any rate, that's the only OTC component I know of that has any regulation. Though people can trip on dextromethorphan, I guess it's rare enough that there's not a serious concern about it. I mean hell, people can get high on whip cream propellant if they want. Pseudoephedrine is just a concer because meth is a rather problematic drug. If it honestly can push meth in to the category of too hard to make, I'm ok with the restriction, but I've a feeling it does nothing but inconcenicence most of us and does not deter the meth heads.
      • So is rubbing alcohol and rock salt. Should we begin restricting those, too? Where does this argument end?
      • have you seen what meth does to people?
        Have you seen what kind of lives people who do meth have to look forward to assuming they didn't do meth []? For a lot of people, life sucks, and it's not surprising they turn to drugs.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Reaganisms aren't a suitable way of dealing with such problems. Face it, the "War on Drugs" failed. It failed for a number of reasons, but it mainly has to do with the fact that "drugs" aren't an enemy that can be beaten via a war.

      This is a case of people using drugs to bring them some sort of an advantage over their peers. That is often done for economic reasons. Instead of cracking down in a police-state fashion, the best way to deal with these problems is to make them unfeasible in an economic sense.

    • The problem with the "Just Say NO" campaign is that it doesn't take into account addiction. Addicts aren't able to "just say no"; they need treatment. The "Just Say NO" campaign only existed as an excuse to decrease the amount of government spending on mental health. On that it worked, but at the price of increased drug use across the country (which explains the early 90s crack epidemic).
      • Congratulations. You've demonstrated a rock-solid string of causality from the Reagan administration to the 90s crack epidemic (which definitely had abslutely nothing to do with Escobar's massive importation of a cheaper, more potent product since those fucking republicans were in office). Bravo, my good sir. We need more people in this world making such stellar arguments such as yourself.
        • Bush Sr. carried on Reagan's campaign into the 90s. The campaign [] was a notorious failure, with no significant reduction in drug use at all. Even celebrities in favor of it turned to drugs themselves. Was it the "Just Say No" campaign's fault that crack came into being? No, but it was its fault that America was not prepared to handle it.
      • by x2A ( 858210 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @04:58PM (#15513757)
        No, the problem with "just say no" isn't addiction, because to be addicted, you must have already not said no at least once already. The problem with "just say no", and in fact so much of the anti-drugs FUD out there, is the term: drugs. Drugs are meant to be bad... right? So what about all the drugs that you get from the doc/chemist? Okay, so drugs are bad if they're illegal, but drugs from the doc/chemist are good, because they're legal... so it's actually breaking the law that's bad, and the laws MUST be right... right?

        Wrong. "Just say no!" teaches ignorance, it says don't question, don't learn, just repeat after me. But the truth is that illegal drugs aren't all the same, and the legal status of a drugs makes absolutely no difference to whether it's "good" or "bad" for you. The difference comes when whether you've learnt how to use the drugs responsibly.

        The only drug I've ever become addicted to was one I was prescribed from a doctor, because I trusted/just accepted what I was told. All other drugs I've 'experimented' (recreational only, I stear well clear of the big addictive one's such as smack/crack) with, I've researched beforehand, and not hand anything like the same kind of problems with. I've even managed to boost my work productivity (programming) with some, which has saved my ass at least a couple of times.

        Whenever I've seen people having problems with these drugs, is because they don't respect them, think that taking more == makes you cooler, they get competative ("I can handle more than you"), or often believe that the drug will solve something that it can't. But guess what... you get the same problems with legal as you do with illegal drugs. Just because it's legal, doesn't mean you won't become addicted, or that it won't screw your liver or whatever, and just because something illegal, doesn't mean it will.

        I've become far more successful in my life, both work wise and socially, since I discovering what levels of different chemicals have different effects on me, what I can achieve in different states, and importantly: my limits. I can use amphetamines (the family ritalin is in, as is speed) to slam out code for 24hours straight, but the brain needs to rest, so if I keep doing it, I just end up being awake, and can't be productive. I've learnt this, I use it wisely, I use it responsibly, I monitor my health (physically and mentally) very closely. There's no reason why I should stop (except legal status).

        Take responsibility for your own life, for MORE of your own life, and you'll find you can be safer from most things, and see that some things are only "dangerous" if used irresponsibly (like powertools) but can be useful if used wisely (like powertools).

    • >>Maybe we need to get Nancy Reagan out of the 80's closet just tell everyone to say NO to the drugs.

      Yes, because it worked so well the first time.
    • The short answer is that a corporation doesn't make a profit on pot. Corporations do make a profit in opposing pot.

      Of course it's a bit more complicated than that, but not much.

      Here's how our mental "health" structure works these days:

      Go to the psych ward at a city hospital and tell them you use pot. The shrink will put you on a program to teach you that drugs are not the way to deal with your emotional problems.

      But go a few hours later though and tell them you have emotional problems and the same damned sh
      • hemp, er marijuana (Score:3, Informative)

        by falconwolf ( 725481 )

        The short answer is that a corporation doesn't make a profit on pot. Corporations do make a profit in opposing pot.

        It was because of some businesses and wealthy people that hemp, aka marijuana, was made illegal to begin with. Prior to it being made illegal Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper. As a farmer he grew hemp on his estate and once wrote that he thought farmers should be required to grow hemp, he never did follow through with this because he knew such a law woul

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'd imagine recreational drugs would be far more appealing to programmers, in order to unwind after a long day at the codeface.
    • by misleb ( 129952 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @04:05PM (#15513595)
      It isn't about what is more appealing, it is about what is sustainable. Stimulant abuse beyond caffeine really isn't very sustainable. Maybe it'll work for a college student for a couple of years, but a career programmer simply couldn't sustain it. They'd either burn out or get a nasty addiction on their hands. Stimulant addictions will mess you up pretty bad. Moderate recreational drug use like pot, on the other hand, is quite managable.

  • New? Try old. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by akarnid ( 591191 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @03:30PM (#15513446)
    Nothing new here, at least for Uni students. Back in the fifties and earlier, when amphetamines were over-the-counter andcould even be baought in vending machines in some places in Europe, Uni students cramming for an exam used to pop quite a lot of those. These new drugs may not come with the unpleasant side effects now, but we'll see what effects long-term use will have in a few years when use becomes widespread.
    • Re:New? Try old. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @08:09PM (#15514329) Journal
      You've covered the amphetamines.

      But the whole POINT of the "psychedelic" drugs (which turned out mainly to be hallucinogens) was an attempt to increase mental ability - intelligence, creativity, empathy, intuitive pattern-matching, and perhaps obtain access to paranormal abilities (this being before Rhine was debunked).

      The very WORD "psychedelic" was coined to reflect this. Means "mind-expanding".

      The adolescents of the '60s and '70s were trying very hard to obtain exactly the sort of mind amplification that these new drugs actually produce.

      Unfortunately, they only had what was available at the time.

      LSD, for instance, apparently reduces the threshold of patten matching - whether it's a real pattern or a false one - but simultaneously reduces the threshold of the "eureka" signal. So the user has a lot of odd thoughts, and every time he has a new one a his mind says: "That's RIGHT!". (You can imagine how this warped the minds of even well-educated and intelligent users, such as the emminent psychology professor Timothy Leary.)

      Or amphetamines - which mimic various neurotransmitters, primarily in the fight/flight mechanism. You could achieve more focus and alertness (with some of them - at the cost of deep thought). But you paid for it later, as non-emergency systems (such as cell growth and even immune response) were put on hold to conserve resources for the "emergency".

      Some use was also self-medicative. Psychology at the time (before the widespread use of Crack Cocaine led to the recognition of Freud's theories as typical cocaine addict ravings) was largely in a religious and black-art stage, and while there were a number of psychoactive drugs available that were pallative, but often mis-prescribed. People with mental problems often attempted to cadge prescriptions for, or buy on the black market, drugs that they perceived (often correctly) as improving their condition. And the Vietnam adventure resulted in a lot of people with injuries producing chronic pain, which could be alleviated only by narcotics.

      And of course once a generation was "distracted" from government-approved "channels" into "self-actualization", the government started an ever-escalating drug war - which meant that the pure, pharmacutical-quality, drugs were supplanted by black-market concoctions of dubious ingredients, strength, and purity. This also warped medical practice, leading to under-medication for pain (which is still with us).

      By the '80s the use of drugs in an attempt to increase intelligence had pretty much died out, and the remaining use of the remaining garbage-quality street drugs was mainly hedonistic, self-medicative, and the feeding of addictions.
  • by Doomedsnowball ( 921841 ) <> on Sunday June 11, 2006 @03:31PM (#15513451)
    Like, I'm sooo stoned right now. It's totally, like, helping me write a Google Homepage plugin for checking your MySpace notifications. That way I can keep in contact with the people who do my homework for me! I tried a few drugs to help me as a programmer, but pot is the best. I tried coke for motivation and to focus, but like, I totally ended up foaming at the mouth playing WoW online. I tried LSD, then tried to program my cat to feed itself. I tried snorting my Mom's Zoloft, but I felt so good about my programming, I totally like, stopped tweaking it and it's still full of bugs. But when I smoke pot, I lay around playing XBox until the last minute when I drink an entire pot of coffee and my panic driven code is the best I could ever hope to write sober. Like pharmies are so pill-popping '80's. Sounds like something babyboomers would worry about, like, for reals.
  • Where would you draw the line?

    Decongestants with pseudoephedrine?

    And if the smart kids start taking as much as Adderall as the doping suburbanites, aren't we all back where we started anyway? Fallacy of the collective anyone?
  • Drugs are no help (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mlefranc ( 85595 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @03:33PM (#15513460) Homepage
    Drugs are no substitute for reading a lot, tinkering, listening to others and keeping classifying things with respect to what you already know. Learning is a very long-term process, certainly little understood, and no drug can kick you on that time scale. What drugs can certainly do is to make you think you are smarter and temporarily relieve the pain of learning. The problem is that anything that makes you different, smarter or otherwise, is painful in some way.
  • by Visaris ( 553352 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @03:34PM (#15513462) Journal
    I've tried many "performance enhancing" drugs over the years. From caffeine to adderall, riddlin, cocaine, and methamphetamines. All these things have been reported to allow one to think and work faster and longer.

    My experience? I perform much worse on these substances. Sometimes I'm jittery and cannot focus. At times I think and work so fast that I make many carless errors that end up taking me more time to fix than if I had done the work slower and did it right the first time. The drugs that kept me up and allowed me to work longer just took more of me the next day.

    I can tell you all, from personal experience, that taking stimulants to try and help you through the day is a waste of money, is a health risk, and may actually decrease your overall monthly or yearly performance. Not to mention the fact that our over-reaching government would be more than happy to put you in jail for a very very long time for posessing many of these substances.
    • You might just be a polarity responder. I have a similar reaction to coffein: I don't drink coffee, because it doesn't wake me up, it makes me sleepy (and the taste sucks).
    • Last time I was in school, an instructor suggested a performance enhancing drug to take before writing an exam, of sitting down at home to write up an assignment. Since then I've had great results from taking this miracle drug when studying.

      The drug is simply a protein-rich, non-meat snack. A handful of nuts, a protein bar, some yogurt; anything along those lines will increase your mental focus. Meat isn't good because the fat counteracts the effects of the protein.

      Keep in mind, this is from someone

      • It sounds like you (or he) may be hypoglycemic. Protein contains the same cal/gram as sugars without the catastrophic insulin spike and subsequent blood sugar crash characteristic of people with "low blood sugar". I actually find that meat is just fine, even fatty meat, and works even better than nuts (which have more carbs than meat). In any case, I agree, but this may not be as helpful for some as for others.
    • I would recommend dexadrine. A great drug, this thing is prescribed to kids w/ ADD and special forces pilots often take it as well.

      The drug is perfect for studying late:
      1) keeps you awake (why special forces likes it)
      2) you're not hungry (use to be a diet drug)
      3) keeps you focused (why ADD kids get it)

      Those three factors are perfect from cramming

      Side affects:
      1) sometimes you'll end up talking too much
      2) can grind your teeth a bit
      3) i'm sure there are some health side effects..
  • Safe? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Poppler ( 822173 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @03:36PM (#15513471) Journal
    These psychotropics seem fairly safe

    These are amphetamines [] we are talking about. They're a lot less healthy [] than the recreational marijuana use favored by other students. Just because they have a brand name, doesn't mean they're safe.
  • Curiosity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sir Holo ( 531007 ) * on Sunday June 11, 2006 @03:40PM (#15513483)
    You can't buy curiosity.

    Someone who is curious continues to mull over material long after the test has been passed. Someone who only cares about the grade will forget about it after the test.

    Smart employers can tell the two apart.
  • I do it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by luckynoone ( 775973 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @03:41PM (#15513486)
    I do it. I have ADHD, but the Adderall does a heck of a lot more than keep my ADHD in line. It has been extremely beneficial to me at work and in my personal projects with programming and coming up with ideas. It is like caffeine x 10 without the jitters and with the ability to focus that amazing energy at whatever you want. Then again, since I have ADHD, maybe that is just normal to everyone else but something new to me? I think it has given me an edge over the average person. However, that is a side effect of the drug. I don't think I should be discriminated against for that. I am not abusing it, and it is working as the doctor hoped at keeping my ADHD in line. Before I found Adderall, nothing I had tried worked in terms of meds. I would not want to get out of bed and I had no energy, focus, or drive. I don't like the thought of people without actual medical need taking it to get ahead. I look at that as the same thing as teens smoking pot. Cancer patients smoking pot to alleviate pain and keep their food down is a hell of a lot different than Harold and Kumar getting stoned so the sliders at White Castle taste wicked and so they can "feel" the music.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 11, 2006 @03:42PM (#15513492)
    EversinceI'vebeenusingAdderallI'vegottenmuchmorewo rkdone.Moreworkthanever.Ithinkeveryoneshouldtryit. Imeaneveryone.Regularol'coffeejustwon'tcutitintoda y'soutsourcedworld!Yougottatakewhateveredgeyoucanf indnowadays.Gottago.Morecodetobewritten!
  • Two overlooked items (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @03:45PM (#15513513) Homepage Journal
    Two things are getting overlooked in the comments so far:

    One, the comparison to pro athletes is flawed because in those cases the steroids are in addition to hard training. Same way, none of these drugs replace the problem that you can't know what you never read. So no, the dumb kid won't beat the smart kid. It'll just score a-little-not-quite-so-dumb.

    Two, aside from what medicine tests (and currently denies) in side-effects, there's always one to be aware of: Habit. If you go into every test pumped up, you will lose your ability to pass a test without your little helpers. Which means that since most higher-up jobs nowadays are essentially continous crisis management, you'll never be without them until retirement.

    I'll add a third: You probably miss out on the incredible drugs your body can produce on its own...
  • Old School (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Quirk ( 36086 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @03:46PM (#15513515) Homepage Journal
    The most overeducated man I know insists that 45 minutes is tops in terms of all out mental performance to be followed by a 10-15 minute break. Da Vinci was known to sleep in small amounts inbetween work bouts that lasted in the 45 minute range. I can still pound out 14 hour days but I need a break every 1-2 hours. Sometimes I consider going on a 45 minute on 15 minute off program but I find I can't let go of a successful run and cool off my jets while risking loosing impetus.

    I've a standing approach to legal and recreational drugs. I don't touch anything new to the market until it's been in wide use for at least 5 years. Let the military, professional jocks and paid lab rats take the initial risk. Drugs might jack you up but it's still rigorous logic and imagination that get the job done. A few years ago when a doctor asked me to write some tests I scored a 161 in a standard IQ test. I know 161 isn't first string but I also got an above average memory and I find I can move across most problem spaces. I very much doubt any drugs are going to improve on what I do now.

    Meth amphetimine is dangerous cheap and plentiful. Long term use includes symptoms very like schizophrenia. I can't imagine why it's so widely used.

    Recreationally beer, pot and mushrooms keep me amused and their long linage pretty much tell me what I need to know about harmful side effects.

    just my loose change

  • modafinil, etc. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rage Maxis ( 24353 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @03:46PM (#15513517) Homepage
    theres lots of new players out there too. i'm bipolar+etc. and part of how I discovered this was that I started to go wacko when I was taking speed to be able to work 100+ hour weeks. unfortunately I just about nuked my brain in the process, but thats another story completely. now I need to very carefully control my dopamine levels with several different medications, but thats life as I know it.

    But I did this at one time, taking amphetamine and methamphetamine as well as ritalin, modafinil, adderal and any number of other substances at work in order to be able to work longer and care less about doing other people's bidding. Don't forget the flipside, the taking B-vitamins to deal with the burnout, tyrosine to fix the receptor loss, benzodiazepines to deal with fact that you can't really sleep properly anymore. counselling to deal with the psychosis and the weird mental states you get into from the fact that your brain can't cope with being up for many days straight.

    The slant of this post was that there is something inherently UNFAIR about this, that "we" need to test against people doing this. There isn't a big worry because the people doing this all end up at one time or another like me, running on borrowed time means massive burnout. I aged biochemically about 10-15 years in the space of 3 years. Mileage may vary, but its not a smooth move. Ironically taking amphetamines to study isn't even a great strategy. Just going to class and paying attention is a better plan. Being on amphetamines reduces memory retention so much that its not worth the effort.

    The big issue here, to me - is that people feel the need to self improve just so they can put out like whores for other people. Learn to live cheap and work less. Why do people feel the need to work harder and longer? I'm not sure why I did it, most of the money I was making was just going into the very drugs I was taking just to make more money for more drugs. Now I live on almost nothing and what unhappiness I have is mostly from the things lacking from my life from when that lifestyle caught up to me. Living on borrowed time catches up to a person. And when your employer finds out you're not just an eccentric hard working savant and really you're tricked out on speed you find out just how little they really care about you.
  • A good drug (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mlefranc ( 85595 )
    The drug that does marvels for me is practicing judo twice a week. Nothing worked better for being able to focus attention in a very short time on something important and going to the core at once. Mind will serve you only if you are the one that controls it. However, it took several years to be a nidan.
  • A deficient diet? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @03:52PM (#15513543)
    First thing to do is make sure you're eating a diet which provides everything your body and brain needs. The western diet is... abysmal... mostly; mediterranean isn't bad. []

    The body and brain are chemical machines, they need certain quantities of certain substances to run at their maximum potential and if you're not consuming the right substances, they'll be artificially limited to a lower performance. So you're wasting your time if you eat crap then try to boost your performance with drugs.

  • All you really need is coffee. A real man's upper. --John
  • You could probably get the same results with a little time management and hard-work. However nowadays there is the prominent attitude that you don't have to work hard for a long amount of time to get the results you want. So they pop some pills and study for 10 hours straight to ace a test. However of course they forget 75% of it the next day. Instead you could study a little bit everyday for a month straight and remember 90% of it.

    This is why less and less credence is being given to a standard BA. Maybe it
  • These psychotropics seem fairly safe

    Can we put that guy in a room with the drug-control czar who says that meth will make your head rot off? I'm wondering what hoops they'll jump through to avoid saying "it's only good for you if you're buying the chemical from a large campaign contributor; otherwise, it's bad for you."

    Just because it's available by prescription doesn't mean it's safer than any illegal drug. (I'm thinking marijuana for comparison here.) Remember, morphine, oxycodone and cocaine have all bee
  • Piracetam (Score:3, Insightful)

    by caluml ( 551744 ) <> on Sunday June 11, 2006 @04:09PM (#15513603) Homepage
    Piracetam [] seems to have few if any side-effects, and someone I know that took it says it really helped him cram info in before a tough Cisco exam.
    (No, it wasn't me.)
  • drugs in college (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 11, 2006 @04:22PM (#15513649)
    Posting AC because of drug talk.
    I go to a college well-known for its drug culture (Ithaca). The most prevalent drug on campus is, by far, marijuana. But the second most prevalent is adderal/generic knockoff (adderal has 4 amphetamine salts, most generics are just amphetamine sulfate). Kids will rail addies to stay up to study, to stay up and be able to drink more, or before finals. (Other drugs make appearances too... psychadelics and opiates mostly, to my knowledge there isn't a very large coke/coca market at all.)

    I'll preface this by saying that yes, I've done speed to do work, and even to party. I've found it to be an incredibly useful tool, if used well, though I very much dislike the effects of the drug. Speeding isn't very pleasant -- you're totally unable to relax or chill out, but rather you have enough energy to do whatever it is that needs to be done. 20-page term papers become 4-hour fodder... or 10,000 lines of code, or a semester's worth of reading for a class.

    What could be better? Literally -- you eat a pill and have 6 hours of pure work-ethic, plus your brain is on overdrive so you're working faster anyway. I know kids who don't do work for about 2 weeks straight, and then rail some addies, and do whatever is owed in one night. I know kids who say "drugs are bad" but will eat 30mg before studying for finals. I also know kids who are addicted to amphetamines.

    I can't say whether any drug is bad or not -- I firmly believe that a drug is what you make of it and how you use it. But the people who should be taken to task for the prevalence of these drugs on college campuses are the pharmaceutical industry, for its aggressive campaigns claiming far more people have ADD/ADHD than actually do, and the doctors who take the rhetoric and perscribe the pills the companies tell them to. Anecdotal evidence is a buddy of mine who is convinced he doesn't have ADD/ADHD, and yet has an 80mg/day perscription for adderal (he sells the pills he doesn't keep for his own scholastic use).

    I'll never use speed to party again (with the exception of ecstasy, which is an amphetamine [methylenedioxymethamphetamine]), but for school I find it a very useful tool. I'm just very careful that I use it sparingly and have a safe place to come down [if you've got more tests to take when you're coming down, the only solution is to do more amphetamines].

    As to its fairness... I think it is inherently unfair that one human differs from another -- we're not all on an even playing field physically or mentally. That's just the way it is, fortunately or unfortunately.

    Just for reference, Adderal is so prevalent that either I'm handed pills for free, or pay around $2 a pill. During finals week, the price was up to $5, and I heard of people paying upwards of $10.
  • I wouldn't bother (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @04:33PM (#15513684) Homepage Journal
    I once tried caffiene tablets to keep going at the office (working 12-16 hours a day for months at a stretch because an employer is too fucking cheap and shortsighted to let a QA director hire ample qualified staff takes its toll) but it didn't help. I felt better for an hour or two then I'd crash harder. I can only imagine that it would be a harder, more painful crash with stronger (and illegal) stimulants.

    What does work is exercise and getting more sleep. I've been trying to burn both ends of the candle at my own business, but lately I've been eating fruits for breakfast and bicycling to and from work, so now when I do work long days I still feel tired, but not to the point where I feel totally exhausted. Soon I'll be bringing in more help and knocking back to 5 days a week. I still make sure I get at absolute minimum 6-1/2 hours or so of sleep per night, and I try really hard to get between 7 and eight (any more than that and I end up either groggy or get a migraine).

    Do yourself a favor if you need to work long hours: MAKE a way to get exercise into your routine, and lay off refined foods. You'll find yourself able to work longer before you feel tired, and you'll feel better overall, and will probably lose any extra weight you're carrying at the same time.

    Drugs (legal or otherwise) might give you a temporary lift, but there is no subtitute for sleep, eating right, and actually getting working your muscles from time to time. If there were a magic bullet, America wouldn't be full of fatties. I'm glad to say I'm no longer a fatty, and while I still have some more weight to lose, the first 25 pounds has made a huge difference and I only have a few more to go. :)

    Need a lift? Eat a banana or drink some herbal tea, or just drink plenty of water.
  • by m874t232 ( 973431 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @04:35PM (#15513695)
    I think we should deregulate almost all drugs. If you want to mess up your body or your mind with steroids or "smart drugs", that's your business. If you want to feel good through chemistry, that should be your decision. If you die 30 years before your time because of various kinds of drug abuse, that's nobody's business but yours--just don't expect exceptional measures from doctors to try to reverse the effects.

    The only drugs that should be far more tightly regulated than they are are antibiotics and antivirals, because incorrect use by one person harms other people.
    • This idea, and other similar simple-looking measures having to do with taxes and govt control, would only work if everyone could obtain complete and unbiased information about all options adapted to their case *and* everyone were behaving rationally *and* assumes that everyone lives in a interpersonal vacuum.

      I agree that everyone should be allowed to take Achilles' choice (a short life but unending fame vs. a long but quiet life), but it isn't usually that simple.

      There are idiots or ignorant people who take
      • by loqi ( 754476 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @09:09PM (#15514518)
        There are idiots or ignorant people who take drugs without realising the consequences.

        There are lots of stupid people that do lots of stupid things without realising the consequences. It's not a justification for prohibition.

        They might become addicted and start stealing etc to support their habit.

        This is why stealing is already against the law. Nevermind that far more people are in prison for simple drug offences than theft. We're paying for 1 million peoples' annual room and board right now on account of prohibition. You'd better be able to show that that cost plus the cost of the drug war is less than the cost of letting people decide what to put in their own bodies, or all your financial arguments are out the window.

        they might take too much and overdose, costing society a lot

        This rationale could be used to outlaw everything dangerous, from McDonald's food on up.

        they might become psychotic with nasty effects to others like family, friends

        Good point. Let's add joining the Church of Scientology to the list of things that should be illegal along with drugs.
      • by m874t232 ( 973431 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @09:51PM (#15514668)
        There are idiots or ignorant people who take drugs without realising the consequences.

        While there are many valid functions for government, protecting people from their own stupidity or ignorance shouldn't be one of them. Furthermore, with the amount of money that currently goes into policing, we could create informational campaigns that ensure that everybody knows the dangers.

        They might become addicted and start stealing etc to support their habit, they might take too much and overdose, costing society a lot, they might become psychotic with nasty effects to others like family, friends, etc.

        Given a choice, the drugs people tend to take are drugs that make them happy and make them feel good; legalizing drugs would probably reduce use of drugs that cause people to harm others.

        I'm not even getting into direct damage to others : would you like your father/your mum to turn to a life of drug and abandon you and your siblings while still at a young age ?

        Drug addiction doesn't generally cause parents to abandon their children; except for unusually severe cases, most people with drug addiction can function reasonably well and seem to overcome addiction after some time if support is available. It is the fact that drugs are illegal that results in children growing up without their parents, either because their parents got killed or because they got incarcerated.

        I believe most people would not be able to cope with themselves in a society with very few laws (an anarchy), yet most people are under the delusion that they could.

        I'm not a libertarian or anarchist; I just think that proponents of drug laws have failed to demonstrate that they work. Oh, people like you use lots of "mights" and "mays" and "think of the children", but, in the end, the reasonable conclusion based on all available data is that drug laws make the consequences of drug addiction worse, both in human and in finanical terms.
  • by Cognitive Dissident ( 206740 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @04:38PM (#15513706)
    but not the fact of usage.

    Onpoint 09/2002: College Students and Psychoactive Medication []

    Never mind the old equation of college and recreational drugs, the parents' old tiptoe through pot and peyote. A new generation is arriving at university heavily armed with prescriptions for Zoloft, Dexedrine, Paxil and Prozac. Xanax, Adderall, Cylert and Ritalin. And it's not about weekend benders. It's about ADD, anxiety, OCD and depression.

    Officials say that today that about 40 percent of American college students are on psychoactive drugs. Everybody knows the number is huge. But what exactly does it mean? Up next On Point: the Medicated Generation goes to college.


    And maybe the reason for the increasing levels of usage is that they are learning this from their days in grade school?

    Better Living through Chemistry? (Dr. Leonard Sax) []

    This year some six million children in the U.S.--one in eight-- will take Ritalin. With 5 percent of the world's population, the U.S. consumes 85 percent of this drug. Have we considered the consequences?


    Despite their stubborn refusal to medicate their children with Ritalin, these other countries do not lag behind the United States in academic performance. On the contrary: according to the most recent studies, France, Germany, and Japan continue to maintain their traditional lead over the United States in tests of math and reading ability.

    This article dates to 2000, but it's about the very same crisis that we've been hearing about more and more the last few years. Children are being medicated in order to get them to sit still in school (where 'unproductive' things like things like recess are being cut in favor of more cramming). Maybe a whole generation has been raised to think of 'learning' as something you need drugs to accomplish. And now we are beginning to see the consequences.
  • by shaneFalco ( 821467 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @05:38PM (#15513859)

    I work in a pharmacy and my expierence with the ADHD medications shows how insanely stupid these college kids are being. We had a pharmacist lose his licence for slipping some of the ADHD pills on the sly; there is a reason the FDA classifies them as controlled substances, they are highly addictive. Some of them (Ritalin for sure, maybe Allderal as well) are narcotics which are the most addictive and most highly controlled category of legal drugs. In the state I live in (I'm not going to reveal that because the pill popping pharmacist is still under investigation by the state) controlled drugs are required to be locked in a cabinet that only the pharmacist can access.

    Now, for further insight- I am a college student, a soon to be senior political science and history major, I pull 4.0's with nothing more than Earl Gray tea doused in honey to help me write those term papers on Progressive politics until 3:00 am. I equate taking controlled substances illegally in order to gain an "edge" to writing notes on the palm of your hand before stepping into the exam room. I got my high GPA the honest way, I'm going to take my GRE the honest way, and I'm going to persue my PhD the honest way.

    Before popping the controls in order to push up those scores realize they are controls because they are highly addictive. If they were safe for use without a prescription then I doubt they would be locked under the counter and subject to an insane amount of paperwork and redundant checks before dispensing. Besides, taking an illegal drug to get your edge reflects badly on you and cheapens the meaning of everything you gained.

    • Now, for further insight- I am a college student, a soon to be senior political science and history major, I pull 4.0's with nothing more than Earl Gray tea doused in honey to help me write those term papers on Progressive politics until 3:00 am. I equate taking controlled substances illegally in order to gain an "edge" to writing notes on the palm of your hand before stepping into the exam room. I got my high GPA the honest way, I'm going to take my GRE the honest way, and I'm going to persue my PhD the ho
  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @05:46PM (#15513894) Journal
    This sounds a bit corny, and is so out of place on Slashdot that it isn't even funny, but I've found being physically active (like at least 30 mins exercise a day) and maintaining a healthy lifestyle does good things to your concentration and studying abilities. You'll be less tired because your lung capacity improves and more, and there's of course other good side effects beyond the realms of studies, like better looks and health. Many feel they're too tired to exercise, but that's a bit of a vicious cycle in that the reason is often because you haven't.

    So this would be a natural way to hopefully improve the studying situation a bit if you're into that sort of thing.

    OK, so I've done it. Posted a health/lifestyle post on Slashdot. Feel free to mod me into oblivion! :-)
    • This sounds a bit corny, and is so out of place on Slashdot that it isn't even funny, but I've found being physically active (like at least 30 mins exercise a day) and maintaining a healthy lifestyle does good things to your concentration and studying abilities. You'll be less tired because your lung capacity improves and more, and there's of course other good side effects beyond the realms of studies, like better looks and health.

      I tried that, it didn't work. In fact it failed miserably. I was more tired, had less energy, put on weight and my grades suffered. Reason, I hated exercise. It was boring, uncomfortable, embarrassing, unrealistic, tiring and unproductive.

      Instead of cycling, running, or horror of horrors, going to the gym, I just took up walking down a few quiet country lanes. No people. Nice and quiet. Time to think. Walking normally, not "briskly" or whatever the hell those people waddling along in the wrong gait are up to.
      • Different levels for different people. You are exersizing, you just don't feel like it. You might also be throwing in a bit of meditation to your regimen. Think about it - mild physical stimulation (walking) and "quiet country lanes. No people. Nice and quiet. Time to think." Meditation, baby. You'd just not sitting the lotus position and reciting a mantra to allow yourself to relax.

        And I'm not suprised that exercise started to add pounds. The most dangerous thing for me is starting to exercise - my body s
    • That is absolutely NOT out of place. The main thing ADHD drugs do is boost dopamine levels in the prefrontal cortex of your brain. Exercise does this too, as short term changes in gene expression result in increased calcium ion transport in the brain, which in turn raises dopamine levels. These changes last for about 56 hours. There is also some evidence of long-term favorable changes to dopamine receptors from exercise in animal models, but to what degree these studies apply to humans is unknown.

  • by Zaphod2016 ( 971897 ) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @05:54PM (#15513925) Homepage

    I am shocked that no one has mentioned the simple fact that IT DEPENDS on the person taking the drug.

    I'll use food for my analogy.

    I have a buddy who weighs about 120lbs (skinny), eats like a pig. I'm 205lbs (fatty) and I also have a terrible diet. Yet another friend is pushing 250lbs (fatty+), and he's a lifelong vegetarian. We're all about 6' tall.

    I have no interest in splitting hairs between "food" or "drug"; both cause chemical reactions in the body, and these reactions are entirely dependant on any number of factors (diet, lifestyle, age, race, location, gender...I could go on and on and on...).

    I for one think it is disgusting that we live in a country (USA) which advertises perscription meds to children every night during prime time, and then locks these same kids up a few years later for smoking dope. This isn't hypocritical; it's fucking asinine.

    Call it "free markets", call it "the people", the verdict is in: WE LOVE DRUGS and WE LOVE FOOD. Both will affect each and every one of us in different ways, and legal or not, each must be used in MODERATION and with ALL DUE CAUTION.

  • by illuminatedwax ( 537131 ) <stdrange@alumni.uchic a g o . edu> on Sunday June 11, 2006 @06:34PM (#15514040) Journal
    I use a simple shot of cocaine, seven per-cent solution, to keep my brain stimulated.
  • by BigCheese ( 47608 ) <> on Monday June 12, 2006 @12:11AM (#15515119) Homepage Journal
    I stopped reading when the quoted "statistics" from Partnership for a Drug Free America. They use long discredited studies and studies with questionable methodology along with pulling numbers out of their butts to push an agenda.

    It is an interesting subject. I just want an article with research. Not propaganda from a shill group.

  • YAY! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by samantha ( 68231 ) * on Monday June 12, 2006 @12:50AM (#15515218) Homepage
    I am all for good enhancements of all kinds especially mental enhancements with no or little side effect like Provigil. It is about time we got over the War on Some Drugs and the paternalistic feds telling people what they can and can't put in their bodies. If I can effectively work better and smarter for extended periods I can be way more productive and build more cool things in less time. What is not to like?

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351