CNN.com reported on a study from the journal Nature, which noted that 20% of adults surveyed used some sort of prescription medication to enhance their mental performance. Keeping in mind the audience of Nature who comprised the population for the study,
The informal, nonscientific survey, conducted online, polled 1,400 people in 60 countries. Most of the responders, the majority of whom said they worked in biology, physics, medicine or education, reported taking the drugs to improve their concentration.
Primarily reporting that they had used Ritalin and Adderall, the respondents largely obtained them from friends, doctors, and the Internet.
Half of the responders in the Nature survey reported unpleasant side effects, such as headaches, anxiety and sleeping troubles. But 69 percent said the boost was worth the risk.
"People are using them even though they do feel side effects," Maher said.
Interestingly, most respondents felt that healthy adults should be allowed to use these drugs "off-label" if they wanted to, regardless of the potential risk. Similarly, the study reported a sense of needing the drugs to compete with others who used them for enhancing attention span and concentration.