The Changing Drug Culture: Use and Misuse of Cognition-Enhancing Drugs

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5 Scopus citations


There has been an increase in diagnoses of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), with approximately 9% of American children now diagnosed, and a concomitant increase in the use of stimulants (eg, amphetamines, methylphenidate) to manage ADHD. Nonstimulant drugs (eg, atomoxetine, guanfacine, clonidine) also are used, but most patients are treated with stimulants. All of these drugs are effective for management of ADHD, and, overall, use in childhood does not seem to increase the risk of substance abuse later in life. However, widespread use has resulted in prescription stimulants being diverted for nonmedical uses, particularly by high school and college students seeking cognitive enhancement for improved academic performance. Studies of ADHD drugs for improving cognition in patients without ADHD have mixed results, and any improvements appear to be modest and short-term. Other substances also are used for cognitive enhancement. Drugs for Alzheimer disease are being used for mild cognitive impairment, though there is no evidence that they are effective. Creatine may have mild cognition-enhancing properties, but study results often are confounded by the addition of exercise, which by itself is thought to improve cognition. There is no evidence that other supplements, such as vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, improve cognitive function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-29
Number of pages5
JournalFP essentials
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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