THE USE OF COGNITIVE-ENHANCING DRUGS
Until the issue of brain structure, functionality and the criteria for measuring competence are constitutionally determined, there will continue to be divergent views and arguments on the use of cognitive enhancing drugs. What this means is that the challenges posed by scientific findings and the various arguments on the above subject matter need to be confronted with a broader understanding of the root causes. This understanding may require breaking new frontiers not only in human anatomy and physiology but also in socio-economic antecedents. The different schools of thought on advantages and disadvantages on the use of cognitive – enhancing drugs have attracted so much debate with less weighted emphasis on cost/benefit analysis on short and long term health implications on human health and society at large. In Henry Greely et al’s article, “Towards Responsible Use of Cognitive-Enhancement Drugs by the Healthy”, they claim that enhancer drugs, whether as medicinal or recreational use, have the tendency for abuse and are regulated due to the potential negative effect on the individual: “Prescription drugs are regulated as such not for their enhancing properties but primarily for considerations of safety and potential abuse” (Pg. 1). I disagree because if Ritalin and Adderall are prescribed for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), it then makes any other application or use illegal. The mere claim that these drugs have much to offer individuals and the society in terms of improving their cognitive abilities to focus their attention does not justify its use by the healthy especially students. Cognitive – enhancing drug, unlike other scientific and technological innovations before it, should be given special priority attention in all consideration before it is given to the healthy because it, particularly, affects human brain, which is central to our capabilities as humans. Although, Greely et al’s view point could be seen as an extreme one because they see some level of socio and economic value in the use of the drug which to them is seemingly necessary with less weighted emphasis on the possible harmful effect: “Like all new technologies, cognitive enhancement can be used well or poorly. We should welcome new methods of improving our brain function” (Greely et al 6). The issue of prohibition or regulation, as Greely et al’s explains, “Although regulations governing medicinal drugs ensure that they are safe and effective for their therapeutic indications, there is no equivalent vetting for unregulated ‘off label’ uses, including enhancement uses” (Pg. 3), should be considered on grounds of the fact that cognitive-enhancement drugs could have the potential long term risk effect of altering human brain cells. Further arguments on the matter must be measured on the scale of risk, cost and benefit to human race with adequate research finding. Meanwhile, given the potential risk of the drug and negative impact on human creative natural endowment, there is need to test prospective applicants before or after college exams and employment related aptitude test to discourage abuse of the drug. Faced by an overwhelming increase in the rate of use of these enhancement stimulants, Alan DeSantis in his article, “Nonmedical ADHD Stimulant Use in Fraternities”, explained in a survey that included various fraternities at an American University, what appeared to be, an increasing trend in the use of these enhancement drugs. DeSantis wrote, “Results reveal a high level of use among fraternity members. Overall, 55% of fraternity members reported using ADHD stimulants, and these figures were significantly higher among upperclassmen, those who live off campus, and those who use marijuana” (Pg. 8). Although, the survey revealed that fraternity members primarily reported using ADHD drugs for academic reasons, other studies suggested otherwise and found...
Cited: De Santis D. Alan, PhD; Webb M. Elizabeth, MA; Noar M. Seth, PhD. “Illicit Use of Prescription ADHD Medications on a College Campus: A Multi-methodological Approach.
De Santis Alan, Noar M. Seth, Webb Elizabeth. “Nonmedical ADHD Stimulant Use in Fraternities,”
Greely Henry et al “Towards Responsible Use of Cognitive-Enhancing Drugs by the Healthy,”
Higgins S. Edmund. “Do ADHD Drugs Take a Toll on the Brain?”
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