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Dealing with requests for pharmacological cognitive enhancement from healthy students

Susmita Chandramouleeswaran, Natasha Catherine Edwin, Wesley Rajaleelan

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2016.058


The use of drugs to enhance cognitive function and academic performance is clearly a global phenomenon, with the reported prevalence of stimulant use among medical students ranging from 15-20%. A multi-institution study from the USA reported a 6.9% lifetime prevalence of non-prescription use of cognitive enhancers among college students. A comprehensive systematic review indicates a 16–29% use of non-prescribed stimulants among all students for reasons that include increasing concentration and alertness. While mental health professionals and guidance counsellors anecdotally recall requests for pharmacological cognitive enhancement from otherwise healthy students, the exact magnitude of this problem in the Indian context is not clear.

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