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What's your opinion on the use of cognitive-enhancing drugs (especially for young kids)? Do you think they are a form of cheating?

The use of Ritalin has increased six-fold since 1990 and approximately 25% of college kids use prescription ADHD drugs without a prescription. Overall, from 2002 to 2010, the number of medical prescriptions given to children decreased by 11%; however, the prescriptions for ADHD drugs increased by 46%.

Some physicians are prescribing cognitive enhancing drugs to students who attend schools starved of money, not because the student has ADHD, but to boost academic performance. Dr. Michael Anderson, a pediatrician for many poor families in Cherokee County, north of Atlanta says, "I don’t have a whole lot of choice. We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid.”

What's your opinion on the use of cognitive-enhancing drugs? Do you think they are a form of cheating? Is today's society so competitive that we have to use classroom steroids to boost our performances?

Check out this article describing the rise in these drugs and their long-term effects if you're interested:

  • Mar 14 2013: Cheating? Yea probably, but that is an order of magnitude smaller than the criminal and child abuse aspects of the practice. We have to trust that doctors will indeed 'first do no harm".

    Doctors that prescribe drugs in children to enhance performance should be barred from medicine. Parents and kids that buy Ritaline to gain a temporary advantage are no better than athletes using steroids. Both should be criminally prosecuted for abusing drugs if found out.

    Ritalin is a stimulant that can be habit-forming when used for long periods of time or at higher dosages than recommended. Besides the "high" that Ritalin causes, another reason for abuse is its effects on weight loss. Abusing Ritalin can be risky and may ultimately result in dangerously high body temperatures, irregular heartbeat, and cardiovascular failure. Treatment for abuse often combines detoxification and a behavioral therapy.

    Ritalin abuse for getting good grades is tragic because it teaches the kids getting it the wrong lessons, gives the kids that are not using it an excuse for losing grade competitions, and may be creating mental health issues for the next generation. Sadly, I think it is over prescribed and used as a means of over-extended, lazy, parents that can't cope with children or do not want to face the responsibility of parenting to chemically de-energize kids that are by today's terms 'hyper-active".

    It has to be some new phenomena that can be corrected easily with a pill.

    It can't be the sugar drinks, lack of play time, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, lack of a balanced diet, lack of hard work and chores, lack of arts, lack of quiet time and meditation, lack of accountability, deferral of responsibility, parents driving kids to hyper-competitiveness, hundred of cable channels, 24/7 internet and phone chats, and general over-stimulation of children.

    Parents need to push balance, work ethic, responsibility, not pills.
  • Mar 13 2013: I can't speak for people without ADHD, but I wish I had the medicine and treatment during my education since I struggled to keep up with even the minimum requirements... Now I have to make up for that.
    It is often stimulants used in these medications, which do affect the brain differently in people without the disorder. As with all substances, be they medicinal or 'natural', you should always be sure that you actually need to take them.

    I don't know if it should be considered 'cheating' to use drugs to enhance cognitive abilites, since I don't view education as a competition, but as I wrote above - don't use it if you don't need it.
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    Gail .

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    Mar 13 2013: I know that the following video is often referred to in these sites, but if you will go to 3:38, you will see how the use of these drugs is geographically disproportionate.
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    Mar 13 2013: Never use these drugs. Not even the herbal ones. I was advised for use of it for my school going son. Disconitued in 3 days flat. I saw an unnatural alertness in his normal laid back attitude and instinctively felt alarmed. I want him normally healthy and doing his best without any such support.
    If parents are over ambitious about their children's' academic success, let them take these drugs and memorize kid's lessons but for heaven's sake don't make the kids subject to such experiments.