Universities should start conducting drug tests before exams because a growing number of students are taking brain enhancing medication such as Ritalin to help boost their performance, according to a leading academic. This is from the Telegraph…
Professor Barbara Sahakian, a neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge, said students should expect to be screened for the “smart drugs”, as is done in competitive sports.
Ritalin and other drugs that can improve concentration are prescribed to treat ADHD, an attention deficit disorder, but Professor Sahakian has warned that thousands of desperate students are now buying the drug through the blackmarket and online.
Academics say the number of students using the drugs has steadily risen over the last few years as they say the pressure to do well increased during the recession, with some students even faking symptoms of ADHD in order to get prescriptions of Ritalin.
The British Psychological Society (BPS) has also launched an investigation into the growing prescription levels of the drug. There are fears that funding cuts for treatments such as counselling have led to an over reliance on medication.
Ritalin has been found to improve short-term memory in healthy people as well as those with ADHD and can also help with planning and attention.
A report by the Academy of Medical Sciences suggested that just a 10 per cent improvement in memory could raise students one grade band at A-levels or into a different degree class.
Prof Sahakian, from the university’s department of clinical neuropsychology, said more and more students are complaining to her that their peers are using the drug and gaining an unfair advantage.
While a proportion are getting the drugs legally through their doctors, many more are buying them from unregulated online pharmacies for as little as 50p a pill.
No mention of this happening in schools, but if it’s happening in universities it is surely only a matter of time before it comes to schools too (if it hasn’t already). How should schools handle the issue? Please share in the comments below, on Twitter or by using this form