Modafinil is a smart drug that is currently drawing a lot of interest from the scientific community because of its vigilance-inducing properties.
Numerous writers described wondrous drugs of the future that could remove the natural limitations of the human mind with little to none side effects, but now we are only a step away from the practical application of a similar concept in real life.
A lot has been said recently about Modafinil, an intriguing chemical proven originally used to combat narcolepsy, which is widely believed to have a profound impact on the cognitive system. According to a study commissioned by the Harvard University, the compound was found to be free of negative effects on the short term, although at this junction nothing can be concluded about possible long-term damage to the nervous system with continued use.
It isn’t hard to understand why people would want to use a drug that makes them smarter and more focused, even if only for a short while. Most of us are regularly required to perform in high-value events, such as college exams or key business presentations, which demand the absolute maximum of effort from the participant. Scoring better on a job interview can boost someone’s career chances, so every medication that can improve one’s chances deserves a long, hard look.
It may be too early to tell whether Modafinil can actually consistently contribute to better results on cognitive tasks, but it is being widely used without prescription exactly for this purpose. In fact, one of five polled British university students admitted to using some kind of pharmacological aid to prepare for exams, with Modafinil named as the first choice for some 44%. Such popularity seems to imply that effects of ‘smart drugs’ extend beyond placebo and are actually enacted by a still unknown biochemical mechanism.
One of the main differences between cognition enhancers and regular vigilance medications is that the former class is believed to work on healthy people. Users reported a sense of high-energy while using Modafinil and found intellectual tasks to be more pleasurable to complete, with the effects more pronounced when working on more complex material. Interestingly, while the majority of respondents said that the drug enabled them to think more creatively, some of those with already strong creative skills saw them diminished to a certain extent.
Overall, there is mostly a consensus that Modafinil can contribute to better achievement levels and that its use is not associated with any serious discomfort. Since this compound is easily available over the counter in most countries (under brand names such as Provigil or Modalert), there are no reasons why someone interested in doing better at work or in school would avoid trying it.
Other substances can be used with success, with Armodafinil (Nuvigil) recognized as one of the most popular alternatives on the market. This medication is more potent than Modafinil and smaller doses can produce strong effects, while its duration is also longer and clocks in at up to 15 hours. At present time, it is very difficult to provide a reliable comparison between the drugs when it comes to their potential for cognitive improvement since clinical tests of this kind were never conducted and most of the available evidence is strictly anecdotal. Some of the other wakefulness-promoting agents (eugeroics) that can be found in circulation include Adrafinil (Olmifon) and Fluorenol (Hydrafinil), both of which are offered as legal pharmaceutical products. However, the main focus is still firmly planted with Modafinil; online specialist pharmacies are able to offer cheap generic Modafinil and Armodafinil with delivery guaranteed. It’s no surprise, given the ease of purchase, that normal healthy people are flocking to the Modafinil bandwagon. Given that the level of interest for smart drugs is on the rise, it probably won’t take long for competing products to appear in the market and challenge for a spot at the table.
It is extremely important to draw a dividing line between smart drugs from this group and the classic CNS stimulants such as amphetamines, even if some of their short-term effects may look similar at the first glance. It is true that Modafinil was found to exhibit some affinity for the dopamine system (a trait shared with stimulants), although this mechanism of action is clearly insufficient to explain the wide-ranging effects on the cognitive apparatus. Most importantly, this new group of chemicals isn’t nearly as addictive or physically harmful as amphetamines or any similar drugs, while the positive effects are more stable and less difficult to harness in a productive way. It should also be noted there are virtually no reports about the use of Modafinil for fun, as it appears to be pleasurable only within the context of intellectual problem solving – which is to say the drug is basically a party-breaker.
Media portrait smart drugs in bad light
Mind-altering substances were mostly portraited in a bad light in the mainstream media in the past due to a variety of factors, both justified and not. The appearance of a new class of medications that have clear psychoactive effects, but don’t cause any psychological or bodily damage, must be a revelation to those who considered drugs to be universally bad. Hopefully, this could trigger an increase in funding available to scientists working on development and testing of new pharmaceutical agents and lead to the discovery of numerous new substances that could help unlock full potentials of the human mind. It is regrettable that prejudice and misconceptions still stand in the way of scientific progress in the 21st century when we have ample capacities for research into biochemical and neurological mechanisms that determine our cognitive performance and social interactions.
If smart drugs like Modafinil can be proven to be without any significant downsides when used over a longer period, they could be used systematically to raise the educational level of the population and increase worldwide productivity. In fact, we might be just scratching the surface here and can only speculate what would be possible with imaginary drugs that are yet to be synthesized. It is certainly encouraging to see that chemical enhancement of neurological processes is becoming less stigmatized in the modern culture. There is no room for predetermined attitudes when it comes to medical knowledge, and it would be best if we could just give full freedom to researchers to seek for new answers to some of the long-standing pharmacological challenges.
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