Question: Are “smart drugs” real?
Answer: Yes – “Modafinil” has been branded a smart drug because of its growing use among UK students to cope with the fatigue of exams.
The use of so-called smart drugs is growing in popularity. Many of these drugs have conventional uses – a popular one, modafinil, is being used to treat excessive need for sleep caused by narcolepsy or shift work. However they are also being taken, in growing numbers, by people looking to work more effectively.
Modafinil was dubbed the “world’s first safe smart drug” by researchers at Harvard and Oxford universities. They stated that the drugs effects were “low risk” when taken in the short term.
The drug does not come without side effects. These include insomnia, headaches and potentially dangerous skin rashes. There is a lock of long-term data due to it being a reasonably new drug.
Benjamin Zand, a member of the BBC News team tested the drugs and claimed that before the pills, his attention was in the top 15-20% of people his age. After, it was in the top 5-10%. He claims that he begun to feel more awake and less prone to frustration having taken the drug. His mind stayed alert as the day went on and as he took a four-hour journey back home to Liverpool, he didn’t feel a bit of the tiredness he usually would.
However, he claims that this was the only time he experienced any positivity about taking modafinil, as when he took the smart pill the following day, he became distracted, and although the drug made him focus, it was on the wrong things.
After some time passed, that evening he began to develop a very bad headache and lost his appetited. He needed to go to the bathroom constantly and he found himself unable to switch off or sleep until early hours of the morning.
Although others experiences have seemed much more positive than Benjamin’s, it seems clear to me that drugs like these are far from perfect and they still need a lot of research.
There is obviously a market for this type of drug, but do you see a future in it? If not then why?