Modafinil and other smart drugs

Modafinil, a so called “smart drug” has gained increased popularity amongst college students and individuals in the work force alike. The pill promotes wakefulness by increasing the brain’s dopamine, but carries the risk of a variety of side effects. 

Modafinil, also called Alertec, Modavigil, or Modalert is used to treat narcolepsy. It is also given to soldiers during high stress missions where sleep is scarce. Modafinil has gained notoriety in the media because its use has increased along with that of Ritalin. Individuals, be they college students, or already in the work force, take the pill to stay awake and boost performance. The pill is a schedule IV drug due to the fact that it may be addictive; it is considered a category C drug for pregnancy and may interfere with birth control. The primary side effects are hypersensitivity, including the potential for Stephen Johnson’s syndrome. 

Fairness is the primary concern in the use of modafinil and other smart drugs in the school and work place. Those who partake in the drug are seen as obtaining an unfair advantage over their peers and breaking the law by obtaining the pills on the online black market. However, studies also show that people who partake in smart drugs suffer from decreased creativity and critical thinking skills. 

Performance enhancing drugs, are nothing new. Humans have used performance enhancing drugs for a variety of reasons, though mostly the initial use is one of medical necessity. Perhaps instead of questioning individuals using drugs, we should be questioning a society that has created a necessity to use such drugs in the first place. Colleges are becoming more and more competitive with students struggling to balance classes, work and a social life. Meanwhile, the workplace can also be hyper competitive, as well as time consuming, with most young working individuals having to hold down multiple jobs in order to make ends meet.