Sunday 25 September 2016

Students warned over 'brain viagra'

Published 24/04/2016 | 02:30

Photo: depositphotos
Photo: depositphotos

Final-year college students are buying dangerous attention deficit disorder drugs, dubbed 'brain viagra', as the college exam season gets under way.

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There is growing concern some hard-pressed students - desperate to either pass an exam or improve their grades - are relying on substances which should only be used when prescribed by a doctor.

College sources confirm that over the next few weeks there will be a surge in the numbers buying these substances illegally on the dark web.

With graduates still facing a tough jobs market, USI president Kevin Donoghue confirmed there is evidence certain students are using 'cognitive enhancing drugs' in the hope of boosting academic performance.

The revelation comes as new figures obtained by the Sunday Independent reveal a surge in the number of seizures of the top three most popular 'smart drugs' smuggled into the country in the past four years.

There were 2,940 Adderall, Ritalin and Modafinil tablets seized in 2014 - compared with 1,344 in 2011.

A trawl through a number of websites reveals so-called 'smart pills' are being carefully marketed online, suggesting they can unlock hidden human brainpower.

One website uses a picture of the actor Bradley Cooper in the Hollywood film Limitless, where he plays a character who becomes almost super-human after taking a pill that allegedly unleashes 100pc of his brain power.

A single Ritalin tablet, normally prescribed for ADHD sufferers, sourced from underground labs in Asia, can be purchased for €2.50.

The medication is often used during late-night cramming sessions to try and improve concentration.

However, ADHD drugs are not designed to be used as study aids, and experts warn the pills can have dangerous side-effects, including heart palpitations, sleeplessness, and stomach problems.

"If misused they can have very serious consequences, and the concern would be that a student becomes reliant on them in order to try and study," Mr Donoghue told the Sunday Independent.

"Some people suggest they improve memory and focus, while others insist that it allows you study for longer. Young people are under huge pressure during exams right now - and getting a 2.1 or a 1.1 can make a big difference to job prospects.

"It's incredibly competitive out there. Some students unfortunately feel they can't meet their targets on their own, and that they need additional support. But these substances are extremely dangerous and simply not worth it."

Excessive parental pressure placed on students to achieve high grades is adding to the problem, he added.

Sunday Independent

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