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The Ethics of Nootropic Smart Drugs
The rise of awareness about the value of smart drugs has raised a question of ethics: Is the use of smart drugs cheating?
The answer is yes AND no.
The misuse of prescription drugs is, by definition, unethical; and the abuse of a controlled substance is a violation of most major corporate and academic codes of conduct – and thus technically cheating.
There is absolutely nothing unethical, immoral, or unfair about trying to improve cognitive function. Is it unethical to drink a cup of coffee in the morning to wake up? Does drinking a protein shake after a gym workout give you an unfair advantage? Both are ‘tools’ to aid in physical endurance and performance. After all, taking a daily multivitamin gives you both a physical and mental advantage… and no one argues that vitamins are unethical.
So why does a double standard apply when it comes to cognitive performance?
The key to the controversy can be traced to the off-label use of prescription drugs. And rightfully so. The medications designed to treat ADHD are not meant for non-therapeutic use and can be addictive, potentially harmful and illegal to consume without a doctor’s permission. In addition, they are Class 2 controlled substances and rank among the most addictive substances that have a medical use.
What’s being missed here is a simple fact: not all smart drugs are prescription medications. Most notably Nootropics. Nootropics are safe, legal and widely available. Thus, by all prior definitions, the use of these smart drugs is neither unethical nor cheating.
How do Nootropics work?
Nootropics improve the function of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine via muscarinic cholinergic (ACh) receptors… both of which are implicated in memory processes. Furthermore, both affect NMDA glutamate receptors which are involved with learning, memory and retention. Nootropics influence neuronal and vascular functions and increase cognitive function, while at the same time providing a natural source of energy to keep you alert and motivated.
In universities, research laboratories and high-performance companies around the world, Nootropics are fueling a new category of nutritional supplement: Cognitive Energy Enhancers. Dubbed “Adderall alternatives,”
There is nothing unethical or unfair about “smart” self-improvement.
In many ways, Nootropics continue a long quest for optimum personal performance. From vitamin supplements to fortified protein drinks, meta-learning to metabolic conditioning…
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