A recent study has revealed that as many as one in five UK students have experimented with "study drugs", which are believed to dramatically enhance concentration for long periods of study. The prescription pills, typically modafinil and methylphenidate (which trade under brand names such as Concerta, Methylin, Ritalin and Equasym XL), are typically used to treat narcolepsy and other disorders such as ADHD.
The fad has become prevalent on campus across the whole of the UK, whilst the drug has proven to be most actively used at Oxford, Newcastle and Leeds universities, according to a study carried out by The Tab newspaper. The research added that Architecture students are the largest users, followed closely by Maths and Law.
When drilling down on the findings, it is shown that a more shocking 26% of current undergraduate finalists have used the drug, and as many as 49% of respondents to the survey confirmed that they bought the substance online. In the UK, the purchase of prescription drugs is not illegal, however, supplying them is.
The popularity of the drug perhaps speaks for its effectiveness, however, it does not come without side effects. Many users have reported a heightened need to go to the loo, alongside a "reduced appetite" and "inability to sleep". Health experts have added that complications can become more serious, including psychiatric symptoms, prolonged anxiety and digestive problems.
The Tab study questioned more than 1,800 students via an online, self-selecting survey. Whilst providing an important insight into the prevalence of study drugs on campus, the explanatory power of the 1,800-student sample size could come into question against a UK student population of close to 2.5 million.
Regardless, the Home Office has confirmed that a review of these smart drugs is currently underway by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.