The drugs, which are usually prescribed for ADHD, are being taken by students in top universities to enable them to study for longer. According to the Care Quality Commission, there has been a 50% rise in NHS prescriptions of the drugs since 2007. Sky News has also discovered a black market in these drugs surrounding top universities.
With drugs usually associated with partying, in the case of 'smart drugs' the rise in students taking these drugs is to simply to keep up with work. With the all-nighter increasingly becoming a rite of passage and way of life for some students around exam and essay deadline time, the use of substances such as Ritalin and Modafinil shows no sign of slowing. It has also been specifically linked with elite and top universities around the world. One Oxford student told The Telegraph that up to one in four students had taken Modafinil.
The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, told Sky News, ‘I’m very concerned. Let’s be clear. This is drug abuse.’
Side effects of Ritalin include increased blood pressure and heart rate, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, headaches, stomach pains and mood swings. Modafinil also has side effects that can include diarrhoea, dizziness, headaches, loss of appetite, sleeplessness and depression.
Despite these clear dangers, students are still feeling the need to take these ‘study drugs’ due to their hectic schedules. With students nowadays under pressure to juggle university work with part time jobs, searching for internships, boosting their CV's and a social life, the attraction of these drugs can be seen. It appears that study drugs are another consequence of changing student attitudes.