This blog has discussed the use of drugs designed for specific kinds of attention-deficit disorders being used by people without an attention-deficit disorder for cognitive enhancement and the risk such usages portends toward an eventual development of lifestyle dementia.
Anything that alters brain chemistry (legal or illegal) introduces the risk of dementia down the road. We must understand that. It seems, however, that we – both the medical community who blithely prescribes these legal brain-altering chemical compositions and we the people, who decide for ourselves and choose to take both legal and illegal brain-altering chemical compositions because they seem to promise a short-term benefit (or because we want to numb our brains and not deal with life as it is and comes) – don’t understand that.
Or if we do understand it, then we don’t care.
Either way, when dementias develop because of our choices, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Sadly, however, our lifestyle choices will impact others: those who will handle the lion’s share of our care when we can no longer care for ourselves.
Therefore, engaging in this kind of risky lifestyle behavior highlights the selfishness and the narcissism that has infected our society almost to every single person. We don’t care how our actions, our choices, and our lifestyles affect anyone else. We don’t think about the long term or the future. Instead, everything is all about us, right here, right now, and the rest be damned.
It’s a tragic commentary on who we as the human race have become and what lies and deceit we’ve allowed into our thinking and our being that we make these dangerous, foolish, and widely-impacting lifestyle choices cavalierly and daily (although this is a single aspect of the selfishness and narcissism that the majority of us have embraced, it is plainly visible throughout every part of our lives, in our thinking, in our words, and in our actions).
Nootropics, also known as “smart drugs,” “mental magic,” or “brain enhancers,” are legal and illegal drugs that have become popular in Silicon Valley (the epicenter of global technology) and among students trying to get better grades as a lifestyle choice to do more longer, faster, and better.
Like the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden, the eventual outcome is not the one the promise it was offered with suggested. And the long-term deep and serious cost was, in retrospect, not worth the seeming (but short-term) gain.
Nootropics are a class of substances (both legal and illegal) that promise better and extended cognitive performance: focus, clarity, creativity, and productivity.
The most common legal “smart drug” among this class of substances is modafinil, a prescription drug used to treat narcolepsy. Even among people using illegal “smart drugs,” modafinil is often used as well.
For narcoleptics, modafinil helps stave off the random-and-anywhere-anytime sleep episodes that characterize this brain disorder. For non-narcoleptics, modafinil works like amphetamines, supposedly without the negative side-effects of hyperjitteriness and susceptibility to addiction that are inherent with regular amphetamine use. For non-narcoleptics, modafinil simply enhances and prolongs wakefulness.
For regular readers of this blog, there should be some red flags in that last paragraph. Prolonged wakefulness is one because it disrupts the body’s normal circadian rhythm and results in sleep deprivation, which is also a potential factor in the eventual development of lifestyle dementia. The other is that the “benefits” of using a nootropic like modafinil make it attractive and addictive.
Other prescription drugs in the nootropic class that are commonly used by people seeking brain enhancement and mental magic are Adderall and Ritalin.
It has become increasingly popular among these brain-enhancement and mental-magic seekers to use a cocktail of vitamin supplements, legal prescription nootropics, and illegal nootropics, easily obtained in South American countries like Columbia to try to achieve the maximum cognitive enhancement they can get.
A telling quote comes from one of the admitted “human guinea pigs” in this quest, major investor in Silicon Valley, well-known speaker, and The 4-Hour Workweek author Tim Ferriss, highlights the unknown long-term potentially harmful results – including the real possibility of lifestyle dementia – of this here-and-now holy grail choice: “Just like an Olympic athlete who’s willing to do almost anything, even if it shortens your life by five years, to get a gold medal, you’re going to think about what pills and potions you can take.”
With all the possible factors that lead to the development of dementias all around us and over which we have no control, it is inconceivable to me that people would willingly and consciously choose to add a Russian Roulette component like nootropic use into the mix.
However, if there is one thing I’ve learned in my short time dancing on this earth, it’s that humans – and, at times, that includes me – more often than not simply don’t make sense, even with facts, knowledge, and common sense right in front of them.
I suspect that’s another undocumented feature of the lure of the promise of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. There, it seems, are more of those than we can count and many of which we are unaware.