Drugs in Silicon Valley and€¦ in your faculty?

In the last Technical class of the subject of Study, a student asked to me €œThere are legal substances that serve to wake up to us, as the coffee? It is that the coffee does not do anything to me€. I answered to him that yes, but who was more natural and sustainable in the time to lie down before to be able to rise early according to the exigencies of our Faculty. A way to advance the natural dream is to set out to the sun more hours throughout the day, as I explained in this entrance.

To the human beings we like to know that we can resort to something to feel us better, mainly if we happened through a time of insecurity. The biologists, psychologists and anthropologists know more of this than I. They know why we resorted to the coffee, the cocaine leaves, mate, the drinks energetics. They know that even the nonhuman animal look for certain plants to chew them and to undergo certain effects.

Also we know that he is better to use the doping ones wisely. We intuit that to turn into €œsupermen€ and €œsuperwomen to us€ during some hours it can pass accounts to short and in the long term. But when the moment arrives for rendering to the 200%, the temptation is too great€¦



A relative mine, in his examinations of the last course of Journalism, began to vomit blood after one night long of study, coffee and drinks energetics. The caffein taken in excess can erode the gastric mucosa and produce hemorrhages.

One of my professors of Pathological Anatomy told us how at his time of student it took amphetamines to spend the night studying, since in those times they could be bought in the pharmacies of Spain without prescription. Unfortunately, the amphetamines produce euphoria, and some nights it ended up feeling such control (false) of the situation, that lost the hours reading novels or combing themselves, to finish to the night occurring account of which she would suspend the examination again by not to have studied the sufficient thing.


Apparently they have been put fashionable in Wall Street and Silicon Valley. Perhaps never they have stopped being fashionable, only that nowadays we have new €œintelligent drugs€.

In Castilian nootropics are called. This term was coined by a Rumanian chemistry in 1972, Corneliu Giurgea, who shelp €œthe man is not going to wait for million years passively to that the evolution provides a better brain to him€ (1)

These drugs improve diverse mental capacities superiors and they are used in Medicine to palliate symptoms of psychiatric diseases, neurological diseases and diverse upheavals of the behavior. Thus, the multiple sclerosis patients can nowadays enjoy her, who often undergo of fatigue and diminution of their intellectual capacity, in addition to their other symptoms (paralysis, insensibility). Patients with narcolepsy and cataplejia, patients of dementia, people with upheaval by attention deficit and hyperactivity.

In his use as intellectual doping, they have detractors and defenders. In her defense we can argue that its occasional use gives the wished results, at least during some hours or some days (greater concentration, attention and capacity of memorization) and much people use them without disagreeable side effects. One of its defenders is Jesse Lawler, to whom they interviewed in BRITISH BROADCASTING CORPORATION (2)

On the contrary, one of the main reasons that fences against their use in healthy people is that it is not really known what it happens in the long term with his consumption. Also it is the fact that they have side effects that depend on the metabolism on that it consumes it, and the amount that is consumed. We already know that the coffee helps us to wake up in the morning and to maintain to us wide-awake by the nights, but that if takings too much throughout the day you can end gastric annoyances, arterial hypertension and nervousness. Not at all pleasant things.


Caffein. - The unquestionable queen, used anywhere in the world and component of drinks and infusions as the coffee, the tea and mate. As much students use it as workers, with intention to secure psychotropic effects simply or by gastronomical reasons.

The well-known one as theine is in fact caffein. In a coffee cup 50-60 mg of caffein can have about, and in a cup of tea, 10-20 mg. In a drink energetics since Red Bull are 80 mgs Therefore, we see that the main difference between these drinks is the amount of caffein that contain.

One of the effects of caffein is to act as antagonist of adenosine in the neuronal synapse. Adenosine acts sending signals that indicate the necessity to rest. Caffein blocks its receivers, and so the fatigue sensation disappears. In when the effect goes of caffein, accumulated adenosine saturates the receivers and appears the bassoon of energy.


If you want to know more of the pharmacology and neurological effects of caffein, you can read envelope it in Medscape (3) and Wikipedia (4). In this entrance you will be able to read more envelope when and in what amount to take caffein to stay alerts at moments at which it is to you difficult.

Amphetamines and derivatives. - The star of this group is the methylphenidate, used in Medicine to improve the capacity of concentration in children and adults with attention deficit. They are the used drug type more between university students, aside from the coffee, the cannabis and the tranquilizers (5). It acts stimulating the action of the dopamine and noradrenaline.

In a published qualitative study in 2014 (6), these were the advantages and reasons of the students who took salts from amphetamine to study:

  • To be able to study during more hours every day at time of examinations, and to surpass the fatigue day after day
  • To gain energies to be able to have time of leisure in addition to the time that must dedicate to the study
  • To be able to memorise more data in less time
  • To be able to study all night before the examination in case of taking delayed the matter
  • They are motivating in certain type of students: €œ€¦ normally, have when for I to study long I get bored. [€¦] taking Adderall when I started [€¦] I didn't really want to stop€¦ €œ. (Adderall is the commercial name of amphetamine salt combining).

Disadvantages referred in that study by the students:

  • Negative effect at the time of understanding complex concepts €œvirtual It's like to picture in your head, you dog Access it but it's not connected AT all €œ.
  • In results objectives, the investigators very received variable answers. Some had seen improve their notes, and others commented that they had not raised absolutely. €œIt was only the feeling I had. There wasn't really to difference between the results with or without taking it €œ.
  • It provides the sensation of to have learned much, but in later readings they realize of which it has not been thus. Perhaps it is related to the intoxicating effect of these substances.
  • Side effects: they were very frequent, although most of the times they were compensated by the positive effects. Tachycardia, the insomnia, restlessness and tremor is easy to support if you perceive in return many advantages for the study. The negative effects grew if the amphetamines took several days followed €œAfter day [€¦] everything is fine, but to after two days it gets worse and on the third day you're just shattered €œ. €œYou do get kind of tired because it's consumptive, under eleven Is can't take it dwells than or twice to month €œ.
  • She is addictive, and it produces a depressive syndrome when it stops being consumed in some people.

Modafinil. - It is a neuroestimulante in people who suffer of narcolepsy (irresistible fits of dream during the day), and also used in deficit of attention and multiple sclerosis. It acts inhibiting the GABA, an inhibiting neurotransmitter of diverse functions. Unlike amphetamines, it does not produce euphoria.

It seems not to have the addictive potential that has amphetamines, although is potentially addictive, mainly if one is used outside his habitual indications. In this entrance of Wikipedia you have more information (7). Due to his short experience of use and to the difficulty to study his effects in healthy people that they consume it as mental potenciador, still it is not known if it has negative effects in the medium and long term.

The fans to the modafinil recommend to take abundant water during their consumption and to make frequent pauses of rest, although this is difficult to obtain because after taking modafinil it is easy to remain engrossed in the tasks and of forgetting certain elementary habits well-taken care of the body (8).

Other substances. - The betabloqueantes run as the water by Conservatories and schools of music before the examinations, since they help to calm the nervousness and the tremor, that can be very harmful when you must be most virtuous possible with your guitar or violin. Unfortunately, they can lower the arterial tension and produce dizziness and fatigue, and is contraindicated in asthmatic. Cannabis, alcohol, benzodiacepinas€¦ at the time of helping to conciliate the dream are also very popular.


Clearly, I am against using doping to study when one is medecines of medical prescription. I am in favor of the caffein used in reasonable amounts and of healthful form. Why? Good, I myself volume caffein to be cleared first thing more in the morning. I always had intolerance to caffein and it could not use it to study, because it produced stomach ache to me, tremor of hands and nervousness, which made difficult to me to concentrate me in the notes. Nowadays I can always consume it in small amounts and with food in the stomach.

I recognize that it is easy to admit the use of a stimulant when one same one consumes it. If I myself outside able one to lay down to me always early, would rise early with less difficulty and it would not need a glass tea to clear me by the mornings. Also I have been able to clear me by the mornings if I make 30 minutes of exercise nothing else rise, although that implies to put the awakener 30 minutes before and that costs to me€¦ So I understand perfectly that somebody wants to improve its capacity of study when the laziness or the negligence has taken to him not to prepare itself in time before an examination.

Nevertheless, I believe that the amphetamines and the modafinil are absolutely inadvisable in healthy students. I am right two main reasons:

  1. Their effects on neurotransmitters act in any point of the organism where such neurotransmitters exist. That is to say, they produce effects collaterals, that in addition are not known in the long term. Within some years we will be able to know more, but at the moment I advise against it. I put the example to you of the estrogens that began to use to deal with the annoyances the menopause in women. More than twenty years later, it was observed that it increased the incidence of gynecological cancers and its widespread use was suspended. Who knows what will say to the time and science to us with respect to the amphetamine use and modafinilio in children and young people with attention deficit.
  2. To the being drugs of prescription with prescription, it is very difficult to obtain them in normal pharmacies, and the users go to stores online, and so they consume preparations of doubtful and very variable quality, which supposes a risk for the health.


€¦ Then what we already know€¦ Regular physical exercise (it foments the production of new neurons in the seahorse, neurological seat of the memory);  to sleep your ideal hours every night (or as often as you can be allowed); to use the coffee with well-taken care of (more abundant in the morning, with taken care of before the 6 in the afternoon, prohibited at night); and to practice, people, to practice€¦ to study regularly are the best training for your intelligence.



  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corneliu_E._Giurgea
  2. http://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias/2015/07/150724_salud_eeuu_nootropicos_cerebro_memoria_jg
  3. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1182710-overview
  4. https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cafe%C3%ADna
  5. Maier LJ, Liechti ME, Herzig F, Schaub MP. To drugs or not to drugs: neuroenhancement with prescription drugs and drugs of abuses among swiss university students. Plos One. 2013 Nov 13; 8(11)
  6. Hildt and, Lieb K, Franke Ag. Pharmacological Life context of academic performance enhancement among university students-a qualitative approach. BMC Med Ethics. 2014 Sea 7; 15:23.
  7. https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modafinilo
  8. http://www.vice.com/es/read/el-modafinil-es-la-droga-inteligente-con-la-que-puedes-estudiar-cinco-horas-seguidas-sin-la-mas-minima-distraccion-010


Almudena Trinidad

I am otorrinolaring³loga doctor in a hospital of Madrid and Professor Asociada de Medicina in the UAM. I help Medicine students to develop more effective techniques of study to obtain better notes, to remember during more time and to feel like more happy insurances and with its studies.

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