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Use of ‘Smart Drugs’ on the Rise

Tens of thousands of people report using prescription drug stimulants such as Ritalin or Adderall in an effort to boost mental performance. The trend was discovered through an anonymous online questionnaire about drug use worldwide; the survey garnered around 110,000 answers, total, between two separate year’s questionnaires. Nature said U.S. respondents reported the highest rate of use in 2017, with nearly 30 percent admitting they’d tried the drugs. Europeans use “smart” boosting drugs, too, however, with both France and the United Kingdom reporting the largest increases in usage.

Performance-enhancing drugs were once only found consistently in the athletic world, but with more and more college students — particularly women — using stimulants like Adderall as a “study drug” (to keep them awake and focused), the habit is now almost a given. But no matter how many people are doing it, it doesn’t make it right or healthy.

The ingredients in Adderall include dextroamphetamine saccharate, amphetamine aspartate, dextroamphetamine sulfate and amphetamine sulfate. These ingredients are commonly found in other prescription stimulant drugs as well, including dexedrine and Ritalin. The difference between Adderall and methamphetamine is one methyl structure, which means the two drugs are chemically very similar and may trigger many of the same symptoms.

And while in the short term you may feel like you have a boost in energy, thinking and well-being by taking a pill like this, in the long run amphetamines may ultimately result in severe depression, mood dysregulation and even violent behavior. The good news is you can improve productivity without any drugs at all. Begin by including some of the best brain-boosting foods around in your diet.

Anchovies, sardines, mackerel, herring and wild-caught Alaskan salmon are examples of healthy fish rich in omega-3 fats that offer neuroprotective effects that can help your brain work better. Cruciferous vegetables and leafy greens also contain brain-protective nutrients such as folate, vitamins E and K, lutein and beta-carotene, and pastured organic eggs, particularly the yolks, are good sources of choline, which is needed for your body to make the brain chemical acetylcholine that is involved in storing memories.

Activity is good brain “food” too, and there are a variety of fun ways to get that exercise, from a walk in the sun to a swim in a pool or the ocean, just to name a few. The point is certain lifestyle strategies that don’t include taking a pill can promote neurogenesis and regrowth of brain cells, and physical activity produces huge biochemical changes that strengthen and renew not only your body, but particularly areas of the brain associated with memory and learning.
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