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December 11th, 2008
04:25 PM ET

Prescribing a clearer mind?

Program Note: Don't forget to watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Anderson Cooper and Lisa Ling on CNN’s award-winning Planet in Peril tonight. Gupta, Anderson Cooper and Lisa Ling travel to the front lines to examine the conflict between growing populations and natural resources. Watch Planet In Peril: Battle Lines Thursday 9p ET

Dr. Sanjay Gupta
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent

As things stand now, it is illegal for a healthy person to take prescription stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall without a prescription. It is happening, though. In surveys of college students, some places reported use as high as 25 percent! They say they use it to boost memory, concentration and focus. And, who wouldn’t want that?

Seven scientists are asking the question aloud in a commentary that caught my eye. I have been doing stories about brain cognition for some time, and they are always some of our most popular stories. That’s because you would be hard pressed to find someone who says their memory, focus and concentration is as good as it can be. I know mine certainly isn’t. And, therein lies the problem. Should I be taking a drug to solve the problem or is our society way too over medicated already?

In case you are curious, the authors were no slouches. The group of scientists includes ethics experts and the editor in chief of the journal Nature. They all call for more research into the risk of the drugs including addiction and long term effects of amphetamines, which are an important ingredient in these brain enhancing drugs. They also want policies to ensure people are not coerced or forced into taking them. For example, you wouldn’t want your employer requiring you to alter your brain chemistry because they thought it made you more productive or focused.

I guess the real question is would you take these medications? Let’s say they went over the counter tomorrow, would you start taking them or recommending them for your family members even if you or they had never been diagnosed an with attention disorder?

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Filed under: Dr. Sanjay Gupta • Health Care • Medical News • T1
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Cindy

    Sanjay,
    Everyone wants to have a great memory, to be all pepped up and to feel all grand but taking drugs to get that is not the answer. We as a nation have become far too dependent on drugs! Every little thing that occurs we think that we need a pill to solve it. That is just crazy! Those little man made pills have side effects. While you take them to "cure" one thing you are hurting another.

    Cindy..Ga.

    December 11, 2008 at 4:40 pm |