by Rafia khan
Believe it or not, not too long ago, aging gracefully was considered to be an actual feat. Not many people could carry off the over 60 look, with the grey hair and wrinkles. Now, thanks to the advancement in so called medicine, we have been granted the privilege to defy age by using anti-aging creams, and pills, going under the knife or needle for Botox, plastic surgeries and whatnot.
At the dawn of this era, where we surpass all that’s natural and real, the scientific community has come up with yet another agent to only cater to those who cant afford it. The “smart drug”, otherwise known as “nootropics” (meaning an upward turn of the mind), has now been introduces, which basically assures us that taking vitamins and minerals, and exercising the body and the mind is not clearly enough.Oh, and neither is hard work, by the way!! Now is the age of ‘smart drinks’ ‘power bars’ and ‘smart drugs’.
What does this smart drug do? How exactly does it make one smarter?
Well, technically speaking, it doesn’t increase one’s mental capacity, but what it does is speed up the process of converting short-term memory into long-term memory. Different combinations of these chemicals (obviously to be sold under different names), can have a wide range of effects on the workings of the average mind i.e they aim at improving memory, learning, attention, concentration, problem solving, reasoning, social skills, decision making and planning.
Skeptics argue that this pill can do more harm than good, as is the case with most medicines, when used for purposes than actually healing a part of the body, which is diseased and incapable of healing on its own. And as with all medicines, the possibility of misuse is always evident. Its been happening with other drugs, such as Ritalin used for ADHD to cram for exams or Provigil, approved only for narcolepsy, is used to increase alertness. Its not a matter of not being able to handle stress, but rather it has become more of a trend now. Gone are the days when hard work was considered to be the way to reach the top. All that will soon be forgotten with the ever extending limits of the medical field.
Proponents of the smart drug, on the other hand, disagree with that, explaining that the drug itself is to be catered to individuals who have difficulty with memory and cognition, such as those suffering from neurological and mental diseases or injuries that affect the brains ability to function as it normally should. Some data suggests that cognitive enhancers do improve some types of learning and memory, but other data states that these substances have no effect. The strongest evidence for these substances is for the improvement of cognitive function in people with brain injury or disease.
There are also important side effects that must be considered. Many of these substances affect neurotransmitter systems in the central nervous system. The affects of these chemicals on neurological function and behavior is still not known. Moreover, the long-term safety of these substances has not been adequately tested.
Although FDA has still not allowed the drug to hit the market, as yet, but when that does happen, doctors will be able to prescribe this magic pill to anyone they think will benefit from it, such as sharpening the fatigued minds. Internet shoppers will be able to order it online, without requiring a prescription.
Another aspect that people tend to overlook, thanks to the excitement of the possibility of never working hard again, is that these drugs are chemicals that alter the brain chemistry. And what we fail to realize, or find easy to ignore, is that our brain has its own chemistry, which means that it produces chemicals used for memory, cognition, motivation etc, unique for each individual. Imagine the clutter you will collect in your mind, the useless things that you probably would not want to waste your memory on. There are embarrassing to traumatic incidents, in even the fatigued and dumb un drugged and drugged minds that they find hard to forget, so imagine the nightmarishly intense emotions that could possibly hunt you while you take your daily, monthly dose of the smart drug. And no, those traumatic memories probably wont subside as the drug wears off. On the other hand, it might just push you into a therapist’s office. That’s what happens when you try to act smart.
Age associated cognitive decline is natural. That is, people tend to forget where they kept keys, or glasses, or whether or not they locked the door 10 minutes ago. That’s normal. The brain does deteriorate with age. And for individuals who need this drug to function effectively, their use of it is justified, but the question is, can this drug be kept safe from being misused by the millions who would rather take a pill than work hard, if they can afford it? probably not..