Thursday, April 10, 2008

Poll results: look who's doping

"The prestigious science journal Nature surveyed its readers to find out how many were using cognitive-enhancing drugs, and found one in five have boosted their brain power with compounds such as Ritalin.

The informal Internet survey involved 1,400 people from 60 countries. Most were from the United States, but 78, or 5.5 per cent, were from Canada.

About 20 per cent of respondents said they had tried to improve their memory, concentration and focus by taking drugs for non-medical reasons.


The readers of the journal are mainly academics and scientists, but include people in other professions as well."

From The Globe and Mail: Science journal finds 20% of its readers are 'doping'.

Read the Nature piece here: Poll results: look who's doping

PS: Sorry for the quick-blogging, gotta catch that seminar.


  1. Autists' behavior and performance both benefit from a little speed that, paradoxically, calms them. Physics is especially rich with the Severely Gifted. SOP side effects: dry mouth causing tooth rot and gum recession; non-selective brain destruction with chronic use; and Parkinson's disease from impurities if you patronize street pharmacies.

    Provigil is the racemate. Armodafinil/Nuvigil is half the dose re toxic effects. Not recommended for the Severely Gifted (anxiety agonist). Rare but severe side effects include erythema multiforme, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis (think about that one), and drug rash with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms.

    Get a little, give a little.

  2. now that explains a lot. i'll consider these insights the next time i try to understand an alleged sociological trend ;-)

  3. Hm. There is no mention of coffein ;-)

  4. Modafinil is pretty legit. Use cases:

    1) It's 1:00 in the morning. You know you've got at least another 5 hours of homework due by tomorrow at 8:00, but you're so very tired. What would you rather do: slog through it, being miserable all the while; or, take a pill and function at full wakefulness? (Even if not full cognitive ability.)

    2) You were up parting all night two days ago, 'till say 5:00. So you ended up sleeping from 6:00 until 15:00. That night, of course, getting to sleep early is pretty much impossible; you end up staying up until 8:00. Now what are you going to do: continue this cycle for another few days until you go full circle, or take a pill and stay up all day without any difficulty, just in time for going to sleep at a reasonable time like 23:00?

    3) You only have time for 4 hours of sleep, but you know that you're very likely to oversleep/turn off the alarm/etc. if you do decide to lay down. What do you do: forgo the sleep, or take a pill and be able to wake up refreshed in four hours? (Note that there's no trouble getting to sleep.)


    I was not aware that armadofinil was available commercially?

    Ritalin/Adderall/etc. seem like they have too much potential for long-term damage. Modafinil does not (or at least has no known mechanism for doing so).

  5. So many people want magic pills to feel better or perform better. It might be interesting if they applied drug testing to academia in the same way they test for "performance-enhancing" drugs in athletics. Maybe those students and profs who use drugs would have to be punished just like the athletes. Hey, what's fair is fair, right? ;-)

  6. I use a beta-blocker which has put 40 lbs on me and on slow days make me fall asleep in the afternoon; so its the opposite.

    I told this story somewhere else.
    I do some public speaking and a year ago I was to and they cnahged the topic on me three or four including the day before. I was nervous; I had beta blocker and had read how people were taking it to calm themselves. So I doubled my dosage.

    It worked! About ten to 15 minutes into my presentation I said 'fu..k.'

    Meds are cools BUT you never know exactly whats gonna happen.

  7. Hi Bee,

    In as I am of the flower power generation and once looked on Cheech and Chong as role models, I stand as living indisputable proof that mind expansion and drugs has no basis in fact.

    Believe me, this is right on deep sh*t people, just ask Alice?



  8. Is eating healthy a valid performance and mood enhancer?


  9. I think 'mind expansion' is about the last thing I'd want. Sounds like more headache.

  10. I can understand, that so many who work odd hours and need to think clearly at any time might find the availability of coffee an inadequate opportunity. Some common OTC items give me a mild extra edge, but it could be power of suggestion: Some acid blockers, like Nizatidine (Axid®)and Ranitidine (Zantac®), make me a bit sharper (mild "nootropics.") I also notice that many popular "water pills" and other diet aids (the "natural kind" not the old dexedrine stuff) give me a lift, as does DMAE (which promotes the natural transmitters in your brain. DMAE is the flip side of GABA, which promotes natural quiescence for sleep.) If you don't like "drugs" there's always B vitamins, choline, inositol, etc. I notice that if too stimulated by such things I can get mild relief with PABA or l-Lysine.

    I worry about Provigil etc, that damage to the body/brain will occur with long propping up against the natural need for sleep. If it becomes standard issue to the military (anywhere), then what further delayed harm will come to soldiers?

  11. "Better living through chemistry"? No thanks (mostly). Other than lots of caffeine and a bit of alcohol (red wine), I don't touch anything else...

  12. These comments are kind of interesting. Especially re: caffeine vs. modafinil (Provigil). I would say that modafinil is much better than caffeine in a lot of ways. Its cognitive effect is far superior; it does not create any of the more annoying long-term side affects like chronic muscle tension; it doesn't lead to a crash; and you can sleep normally no matter how much modafinil is in your system (well, at least at reasonable and somewhat-reasonable doses; no idea what happens if you start overdosing heavily).

    Re: long term sleep deprivation. I've done some cursory research into this area (as a consequence of my foray into polyphasic sleep a couple of years ago). In general it looks like there's not too much of a cognitive problem, but it's possible that there's a significantly increased cancer risk and general immunosusceptibility, at least if your body's melatonin etc. cycle is not properly adjusted. (Polyphasic claims to do this; I'd love to get some melatonin tests done some time---if that's even possible.)

    I mean, "smart people" are known to stay up late and sleep deprive themselves chronically throughout life, and you don't see a lot of old smart people wandering around saying "damn, I should'a slept more; I screwed myself over big time." (But of course that train of logic is not bulletproof.)

    Finally, re: eating healthy, and by extension exercise. Highly recommend the eating healthy. I experienced significant boosts in mental clarity and overall energy level switching my diet (from "all-American with somewhat healthy-food--leaning parents" to vegan). One of the most describable effects is the loss of chronic fatigue: before, sleep deprivation or even just life would have me constantly sore, tired, and dragging myself through certain tasks of the day. "Zombie" was a fairly good description. Of course I thought this was normal at the time, and it's only in retrospect that I can readjust my baseline, so don't think that I was necessarily having problems to begin with.

    Now, no matter how sleep deprived I am, I don't feel that whole-body fatigue; instead, it's just a persistent mental nagging to lie down and rest, much more localized to impairing cognitive capabilities than anything else.

    I've been aerobic-exercising every day for the last 3 weeks now (this is very new for me), and can't really tell a difference though, on the mental plane. Maybe it's too soon, I dunno. Definitely has other benefits though, both short and long term.


    So basically, I am a strong proponent of "better living through input modification," whether those inputs be pills, food, drink, activities, or content consumed. I kind of view it as a game... gotta tweak myself to the optimum because the cumulative benefits are enormous over the long-term. (So, obviously, long-term health effects are considered in this tweaking process.)

    Now, excuse me while I go do some research on those things neil' mentioned...

  13. maybe mind shrinking instaead of 'mind expansion' ?;)

    post by how seminar went.


  14. can't recall what the seminar was about, I was on an overdose Tylenol but heroically managed not to fall asleep and/or off the chair. I think it was something about, *oohm*, how to get a time into QG or so.

  15. but what about that seminar where you were supposed to give a talk about triangle .. something- information-social-physics?

  16. ? Don't know what you are referring to. I will give a talk about the topic at our September conference, must have been a misunderstanding, sorry.

  17. First, Bee: Be careful taking lots of acetaminophen, it stresses the liver and kidneys even of healthy people, and is really bad if those have problems.

    Also I forgot to mention, that theanine is a great mild relaxant (a sort of flip side to coffee) and a good counter to getting too wired on coffee. It's available OTC in health stores, decent dose is about 100 mg.

  18. Thanks for the advice. It's not that I particularly like that stuff, especially paracetamol I'm deeply suspicious about. For whatever reason however, painkillers of whatever type typically don't work for me in the recommended doses.

  19. I'm sorry - I forgot to mention one more important product; very tasty!

  20. Just want to dump this link here

    Can supercaffeinated drinks help students pull all-nighters?

    Globe and Mail
    May 6, 2008 at 9:39 AM EDT


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