Does each generation have a favorite drug for performance enhancement? It seems so. I recall the days when cocaine was widely deemed a safe performance enhancer; yes, Ma’am: it gave the user energy and self-confidence and it wasn’t addictive! Then the snort hit the fan.
The new performance enhancing drug(s) of the moment are A.D.H.D. drugs – medications used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. They include Adderall, Concerta and Vyvanse, which are supposedly widely used by college students who then bring that drug usage to the workplace.
Wall Street traders, lawyers, dentists, accountants, teachers, etc. are obtaining the drugs by easily duping doctors into ADHD diagnoses or from dealers, friends or coworkers. The drugs’ affects are nearly immediate and the resulting work output is supposedly phenomenal. It’s no surprise that 2.6 million American adults took ADHD meds in 2012, which was an increase of 53% over usage in 2008 and that usage by adults aged 26 – 35 nearly doubled.
The downside is multi-faceted: racing heartbeats, profuse sweating, severe anxiety from lack of sleep, hallucinations, overdose, addiction and federal felonies. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported 23,000 emergency room visits in 2011 for nonmedical use of prescription stimulants by adults aged 18 – 34, triple the number of such visits in 2005.
Despite the stunning statistics, users swear by the drugs’ performance enhancing properties and say they need it in order to compete in a stressful, demanding work environment. Then the pills will hit the fan and the next generation will discover the next performance enhancing drug.
One mental side note that occurred to me is disgust with work environments so inhumanly stressful that talented, capable professionals believe their performance must be drug-driven to be adequate. That’s a sad commentary on the American working environment.
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