The global sales of the smart drugs surpassed US$1 billion in 2015 and the comprehensive claim for these drugs is still rising. Do you want to know what magic these drugs are doing? What is so compelling about them? Is the whole world is getting narcoleptic (For which they are prescribed) or something else is happening? Let's have a look of pros and cons of the star drug class?
These drugs work to make you smart, unbelievable, but, they claimed to enhance your memory and motivation. Means the sharp and focused mind.
These drugs are also known as Cognitive-enhancers or Nootropics.
A Romanian psychologist and chemist Corneliu E. Giurgea, first give the term "Nootropics" in 1972. The word has a Greek origin, in Greek "nous" meaning "mind", and "trepein" meaning to bend or turn. The famous Nootropics are; Modafinil, Adrafinil, Armodafinil, Ritalin, Adderall and Piracetam.
The fame among all of them is Modafinil, used for the treatment of narcolepsy (a disease which causes sleepiness during day time) or shift work sleep disorder (Disordered Circadian Rhythms in people whose work hours overlap with typical sleep periods).
The founder or developer of Modafinil is a French neurophysiologist "Michel Jouvet" . The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permitted modafinil in 1998 for the treatment of narcolepsy. And the drug was approved for the treatment of shift work sleep disorder and obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea in 2003. The enhancement of cognitive performance, effected by many factors and the effect varies from person to person. It is treating people for the diseases it is prescribed for that’s why the sales are high. But, that big sales indicating that the narcoleptics are not alone. People without narcolepsy take it to be more alert, motivated, to increase reaction time and to enhance mental capability. Armed forces from many countries use Modafinil, the drug usually hired to struggle states of prolonged missions where, soldiers face deprived of sleep. It keeps them awake and alert for relatively longer time periods. Astronauts also used smart drugs to help them stand out on longer missions by letting their energy levels consistent. Nothing is as much complex as human brain. Brain has a lot of connections. Chemicals are the carrier of messages through these connections. You are feeling down or over whelmed with emotions, all that is result of chemical changes in your brain. Anything from memories to moods is result of the messages conveyed by these chemicals.
Modafinil work with these brain chemicals to produce a desired effect. In fact, all the cognitive enhancers do almost the same. The sales and the hype of the drugs show that, they work. But, are the research results do agree with them? To know the effectiveness of any drug it is of great importance to check the research conducted on that drug. Let's check the result of some of the researches conducted on Modafinil.
A 2015 meta-analysis claimed that modafinil seems to gradually enhance the learning, cognitive functions and concentration. And it do not have any impact on user’s mood. The chess players taking Modafinil found to perform better in chess games played against a computer, in a study conducted this year.
The reported cases of addiction of smart drugs are negligible. Seems we got a super drug with no side effects. But we are living in real world, nothing is going to be that much perfect. The overdoses on daily basis for a long period reported to cause anxiety, lassitude and insomnia. Teva Pharmaceuticals conducted a research on side effects of drugs. The results showed that 11% of volunteers showed nausea, one-third of them got headaches and fewer than 10% of them reported diarrhea, dizziness, gastrointestinal problems and anxiety. The side effects are not drastic. The little price for an active life, not bad. The serious one are skin rashes and allergy related but fortunately are less probable and less reported. The drugs are safe for a long-term use or not, it is still unknown.
If you do not have an issue with your sleep patterns and you do not have any other medical indication, still you want to take smart drugs, then you should concern with the most debatable issue among neuroscientists, psychiatrists and physicians. The use of smart drugs without medical indication is part of that big debate including ethics and fairness.
There are vast social consequences to consider when dealing with this issue, such as whether the smart drugs will only widen the triumph hole between the more advantaged and the less advantaged. Anjan Chatterjee is a professor of University of Pennsylvania and a head of neurology of Pennsylvania Hospital says, "If we value ultra-competition in these settings where a little advantage gives you disproportionate rewards. I think the drugs come along for the ride."
There are events organized to debate on the topic and to make the people aware of the drugs in all aspects. These events are making the difference. But, the smart drugs along with all these uses and side effects are getting hype must have to cover a long distance to be acceptable in society.