A professor at Cambridge University suggests licensing students with study drugs may be a good idea.

The Suggestion

Barbara Sahakian, a professor at the University of Cambridge, and an expert on cognition-enhancing drugs has argued that it might be a good idea to license students with study drugs.

“I think the Government should look at the front runner drug that people are using as a cognitive enhancing drug, and actually get together with the drug company and assess whether it’s safe and effective for people to use,” she said to a reporter from the Independent.

“If it is, then let them license it, and maybe sell it in Boots, and have people have the usual information about the side effects and then they can also go to their GP before they take it.”

Sahakian currently researches study drugs such as modafinil, the most popular one in the country. Study drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin are more popular in the US.

“When you think about it, a lot of people what they do is really dose themselves with coffee and caffeine and then they end up with palpitations and tremors and things like that, so in some ways I prefer [Modafinil],” she said.

“There are many students who leave things rather late and try to cram for the exam and then want to take a drug to keep them awake and alert. If they’re going to do it I’d rather ensure that they’re not harmed by it.”

She also said: “There may be other contexts in which we want a better cognitive enhancing drugs – we know that people fall asleep at the wheel all the time when they’re driving.”

“Perhaps, if it’s a safe awake and altering agent, there might be a place for it.”

Study Drugs in University

Study drugs have become very much integrated in students’ college experiences. According to a Bristol Tab student article, study drugs have become “as much part of the university experience as “disappointing sex and watching too much daytime television.” A national survey corroborated this by showing that one in every five students in UK universities have used study drugs. Oxford University’s “Cherwell,” has found that it’s more like one in every four there.

Oxford University then responded to this by sending students an email to inform them of “drug safety” workshops they could attend. They said in the email that they “wanted to explore the reasons why people might start using smart drugs, and suggest safe and sustainable solutions.”

This all preceded Sahakian’s suggestion to license safe study drugs to students.


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