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‘Brain Steroids’ for Scholars on the Rise

“Smart pills” — prescription stimulants that increase alertness, concentration, and short-term memory — are increasing in popularity among college students, a recent study found. “The number of healthy people using bootleg pharmaceuticals of this sort seems to be soaring,” the Washington Post reports, referring to the use of Adderall, Ritalin, and other performance-enhancing stimulants on campuses. One study found that 90-percent of senior business majors at the University of Delaware occasionally took a “smart pill,” and of them, 75-percent did not have a legitimate prescription. The news isn’t surprising, the Post suggests, considering the pressures facing students and how in this generation, “computer nerds are cultural heroes, SAT scores are measures of our worth, and the Ivy League is Valhalla.”

Here’s what the people are saying:

“Here at UPenn I spent an evening during finals with one of my friends who is rather open about the fact that she has a Ritalin prescription. During the course of that one evening she got 4 phone calls and 2 visits from people seeking to acquire her Ritalin. Friends wanted to know if they could have some, her pot dealer wanted to know if he could buy some. People who she barely knew wanted to know if they could buy some as well.” — giblfiz,

“One wonders how many of the cases of ADHD are fabricated on the part of parents to get the kid the drugs necessary to succeed in school, not because of any pathology of hyperactivity.” — Mr. Farlops,

“So rather than improving teaching methods or building newer and better schools why not partner with the pharmaceutical industry to provide government subsidized Adderall and Provigi. It would be a one-two punch as the drug companies would gain entrance to an emerging market and our children would have the tools necessary so that they are not left behind.” —

“I actually worked on calc homework, and actually almost finished all of it. I’m debating whether or not to get a prescription for Adderall or something like that — I’m starting to think I might need it.” — sakamotokazuma

Talk: Are performance-enhancing stimulants the answer to the pressures facing college students? COMMENT

On the web: “A Dose of Genuis” at