Experimenting with recreational drugs can sometimes be presented as part of normal experience but in reality most people don’t use drugs.
Aside from the serious legal and potential disciplinary implications of illegal recreational drug use, a small but significant proportion of regular drug-users can come to rely on drugs like cannabis and ecstasy or become addicted to drugs such as cocaine. Any such dependence or addiction will naturally have a huge impact on someone’s wellbeing, health and life in general.
The best way to minimise risk from drugs will always be to avoid using them. However, if you do decide to use drugs, it’s very important that you find out as much information as you can about the drugs you are using, including the risks, the potential for addiction, and what happens when you mix one drug with another, or with alcohol to help ensure you are making an informed decision: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/drugs/Pages/Drugshome.aspx.
Follow advice to help you stay as safe as possible: https://www.smartcjs.org.uk/get-support/drugs/stay-safe/.
There are also plenty of urban myths about drugs – can you tell fact from fiction?
What is a drug?
Smart drugs (aka nootropics, cognitive-enhancement drugs)
There has been a growing trend in recent years around the availability and use of prescription-only smart drugs such a Modafinil, Ritalin and Sunifiram. These drugs are legally available on a prescribion only basis and are licenced for treating disorders such as Attention Deficit Disorder and Narcolepsy and yet are increasingly used by healthy people in an attempt to enhance cognitive ability, improve concentration and focus and maximise brain power , for example during exam periods.
Non-prescription sale of the drug Modafinil was banned in the UK in 2016 as part of a government-led crackdown on legal highs. However, anecdoteally it seems that the drug is increasingly used by students. Whilst smart drugs are not illegal if they are prescribed by a doctor, it is illegal to supply them and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MRHA) have warned that the long-term effects of these drugs are untested and therefore still unknown. And yet a survey in the Tab student paper suggests that a fifth of students in UK universities have used Modafinil at some point.
Many have warned that the willingness of people to put their long term overall health at risk in pursuit of a a short term intellectual edge is deeply troubling. The short term side effects of the drugs can also be unpleasant, including severe fatigue, headaches and a rash. One of the main issues is that these drugs inhibit sleep; there is a significant body of research highlighting the need for good quality sleep in order to maximise brain power and so it has been argued that smart drugs are actually ineffective and counterproductive. The drug Modafinil has also been associated with a risk of serious adverse effects including psychiatric disorders.