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1 in 5 academics take drugs to keep up with work?

(25 Posts)
bigkidsdidit Wed 31-May-17 12:28:29

I can't believe this is true. I've never heard a whiff of rumour about it. Do you think it's possible? confused

guardian article

NImbleJumper Wed 31-May-17 17:10:31

Is chocolate a drug?

Lules Wed 31-May-17 17:15:28

We were talking about this at work yesterday. We'd never heard of anyone doing this unless you're talking about caffeine. At this stage of the year though I'd almost be tempted to try anything that made marking more interesting.

bigkidsdidit Wed 31-May-17 19:03:57

Id be tempted to be honest except the aftermath must be awful. I can imagine working like fury for two days and writing a grant, then being sub par for a week as you recover. Doesn't seem worth it.

Foureyesarebetterthantwo Wed 31-May-17 19:31:59

I have heard of it once, and I wouldn't be surprised if a few used coke, but I am not sure about 20%. It doesn't seem very likely to me, I would guess it would be about as many people as use illegal drugs (other than cannabis) which is 10-12% max, and fewer in our age group. Plenty of wine drinking, some spliff smoking. I don't think it is illegal to possess/take modafinil anyway. It might be more common in the States.

bigkidsdidit Wed 31-May-17 20:25:26

This neuroscientist is saying 20% of academics are taking legal cognitive enhancers to be able to do all their work, not spliffa

bigkidsdidit Wed 31-May-17 20:25:38


Foureyesarebetterthantwo Wed 31-May-17 20:55:36

I know, I'm just musing the nature of the substance use. I really doubt that many use cognitive enhancers but obviously a few must...I don't know where the figures come from though.

Marasme Wed 31-May-17 21:37:45

many of my colleagues are on ADs and beta-Bs - but not sure anyone take any of the other stuff!

clockwotch Thu 01-Jun-17 07:37:10

I have a colleague who emails at 3am and I wonder if he's on coke or something.

I'd never do it. I'm far too much of a control freak and I also breastfeed. No one needs a toddler on speed confused

murmuration Thu 01-Jun-17 09:31:18

I'd like to see the research on this. It just seems to be something some 'said'. I wonder if it is higher in certain fields or at certain high-pressure Universities? But I can't imagine that's some kind of academic average - I would swear that at least all the academics I know well at my Uni don't do this. Although perhaps I'm super-naive.

I've only recently started drinking tea in the morning! But I'm hypersensitive to caffeine.

marasme - are they are on ADs and beta-blockers for medical conditions or to enhance performance? Do those actually enhance performance? I was in a situation once where I might have been prescribed beta-blockers and the doctor told me that many people say they feel they lose their cognitive edge on them - one of the reasons why I looked into other treatments!

Foureyesarebetterthantwo Thu 01-Jun-17 09:53:25

A lot of the population are on ADs anyway, I don't know if it is higher in academic groups.

I am almost tempted...but not really. I am a firm believer in keeping everything as stable as possible. They don't appear to have huge side effects though, and allow you to work through periods of fatigue- hmmm, am starting to get tempted again (not really!)

MiladyThesaurus Thu 01-Jun-17 13:34:57

I'd be really surprised if any of my colleagues were taking cognitive enhancers to do their job. Is the person who made this claim basing it entirely on his own lab or something?

On the other hand, I would imagine a lot of them are on anti-depressants.

Foureyesarebetterthantwo Thu 01-Jun-17 13:53:56

I always think of academics as the square kids at school (I was one anyway) so I think they might be less predisposed towards (perhaps questionable) drug use, not more.

JohnnyMcGrathSaysFuckOff Thu 01-Jun-17 14:02:29

I have worked in professional academia since 2006 and no bugger has ever offered me anything stronger than a latte in the campus coffee shop.


MiladyThesaurus Thu 01-Jun-17 14:03:35

I've been offered a whisky from someone's desk drawer. I'm not sure that would enhance my performance however.

flumpybear Thu 01-Jun-17 14:05:16

We get free tea and coffee ☕️

lekkerkroketje Thu 01-Jun-17 18:24:07

In my institute, there is a lot of cannabis (to the extent it's ok to get high at department happy hour on Friday hmm) and to a lesser extent pills etc among the PhD students, and probably 25% of staff are functioning alcoholics. I therefore assume cocaine and speed too, but I never heard of ritolin being used. It was definitely being used when I was an undergrad (not by me!) to get through finals. The medics seemed the most drugged up...

MedSchoolRat Thu 01-Jun-17 22:02:35

Sounds like utter nonsense rubbish rumour to me.
Unless you count caffeine & nicotine, of course.

Most of my colleagues are middle aged. I am at one of the anonymous Universities. I note that the originator of this story looks under 30. She's at Oxbridge ( but has a gmail email address listed on her website, WTF does that mean?? ) & is down as in the politics dept. One of my SL colleagues is seriously considering retraining to be an HCA, so I guess we're rubbish at ambition.

Maybe we move in different circles.

PencilsInSpace Thu 01-Jun-17 22:12:27

I know a couple of people who use modafinil. They don't appear to be drug crazed loons which is more than I can say for people I know who have used coke or speed. From what I have read it seems to be a fairly benign and non-addictive drug and it's used by the military and the space programme with no ill effects reported so far.

If people need drugs to keep up with modern life though, something has surely gone wrong.

Foureyesarebetterthantwo Thu 01-Jun-17 22:36:11

I've eventually found the original source for the 20%...

Only 14 respondents who took anything were from the UK suggesting that it may be less prevalent here perhaps?

Also interesting that half the respondents had side effects, I thought that modafinil in particular had a good profile for that, no idea about Adderal and betablockers are not cognitive enhancers anyway, if anything they slow you down.

theresamustgo Fri 02-Jun-17 00:05:18

Nah,, my PhD students though are drugged up to the eyeballs...are they being counted??

clockwotch Fri 02-Jun-17 13:24:56

Do those surveys take into account people taking it legitimately as a study aid because they have ADHD or similar? I think that may be a fair few if my somewhat scatty colleagues are anything to go by

Foureyesarebetterthantwo Fri 02-Jun-17 14:06:14

clock I also thought the same about betablockers, these are commonly used for all kinds of reasons- lower blood pressure, migraines, anxiety, heart issues, I would bet very few people use them specifically and only for presentations/lectures.

worstofbothworlds Fri 02-Jun-17 14:20:05

My straw poll of a tiny number of academics suggests that they are more likely to take the GP-prescribed antidepressants than wave their hands about not wanting to mess themselves up and developing a long standing relationship with a therapist. Probably because they have no time to do the latter.

I've heard of one or two people who take betablockers for lecturing but lots more who have them for other reasons.

My drugs of choice are caffeine, sucrose, and theobromine during the day, with ethanol and citalopram to wind down.

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