Students and Modafinil

Introduction

You can read many reports in the press about the increasing use of Modafinil, or smart drug, by students. Although there is nothing new in students finding themselves under pressure to score really well in their exams and studies, due to the costs involved in higher educational studies and the potential rewards of landing a well paid job by attaining a good degree – those pressures have surely never been greater. Subsequently it can be little surprise that some students buckle under that pressure and others seek medication to help them. One such medication on the market is Modafinil, also known as the smart drug, to which many students are now turning. Eschewing the more traditional route of using mood enhancers, or even recreational drugs to relieve the pressure they now, instead, use Modafinil to enhance their cognitive abilities thereby reliving the pressure.

Modafinil, part of your investment in your studies

Depending on which university a student is attending it can cost in excess of $50,000 a year in tuition and accommodation fees, so we are talking about a considerable amount of money being invested in the studies. If, as a student, you were to find yourself constantly struggling with your studies then perhaps you should review your choice of courses; however, there are certain times in the academic year that require truly intensive periods of study – like the exams periods. This is the time that most students find Modafinil to be of benefit. Originally developed to fight the sleeping disorder narcolepsy, as a neuro-enhancer Modafinil has the effect of not only helping you to stay awake but, unlike taking purely stimulant drugs like amphetamines, it will not impair your mental faculties – but can actually enhance them. Thus, the benefit to a student during an exams period, or when completing something like a major dissertation, is that they can stay wake for longer without any loss in concentration, understanding of the task or, indeed, their ability to analyze and assimilate information. Subsequently, for the sake of just a few dollars each Modafinil pills, some call them smart drug, can be bought that can be seen as part of the overall investment costs of your studies.

The authorities dislike of Modafinil

The use of Modafinil is not without its critics, most worryingly for students from university authorities. Rather like sports performance enhancing drugs they perceive Modafinil to be giving an unfair advantage to some students over others. Professor Barbara Sahakian, Cambridge University Psychiatry Department, is particularly vociferous on this point – even to the extent of advocating dope testing of students to search for the use of neuro-enhacers such as Modafinil and another smart drug. Unfortunately she would appear to be somewhat behind the thinking of the students out on the campuses. A recent study of American Universities in Nature revealed that anything up to 25% of students have already taken Modafinil or a similar neuro-enhancer. With the ‘genie’ already out of the bag to that extent, it would seem a difficult task to make any imposition for using Modafinil – given that the universities are dependant on the fees from those very students who feel under pressure and take it! Furthermore, one function of Modafinil is to increase the production of dopamine to increase wakefulness and alertness. As the human body produces dopamine naturally two mischievous questions arise. First is it fair that if one person produces more dopamine naturally than another, and can therefore stay awake studying for longer, that the other person should be denied the opportunity to increase the dopamine in their body? Or, if the authorities want to maintain what they see as a ‘level playing field’, to prevent people who can stay awake naturally longer than others – do they want to return to a ‘lights out’ at 10pm system as might have been the case in earlier and less liberal times?

Modafinil – the science

In brief, as mentioned above, Modafinil was originally developed to help people who were suffering form narcolepsy, a condition in which the patient will fall asleep unaccountablyand not to be used as a smart drug. Modafinil is classed as a analeptic drug to counter this effect, which it does by stimulating the central nervous system to produce chemicals in the brain that are monoamines, dopamine for example, which are stimulants and hypothalamic histamines to promote wakefulness.