College students are using prescription stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin in such soaring numbers, says Matt Lamkin in The Chronicle of Higher Education, that one school's student journalists found they could score Adderall in their library in less than one minute. Students are taking the drugs, normally prescribed to treat attention-deficit disorders, as cognition-enhancing study aids, a route some consider cheating — "akin to the use of steroids in sports" — and many schools want to eliminate the practice. But that doesn't make sense, Lamkin says. If the drugs really do help academic performance, "shouldn't colleges put them in the drinking water instead?" Here, an excerpt:
If our key concern is fairness, making study drugs available to all students could actually do more to promote that goal than banning them. Of course, to the extent that such drugs pose health risks, it's prudent to restrict their use. But that seems like an argument about safety, not fairness. While safety is a valid concern, it is one that might be overcome by better drug design. If we are still troubled by the idea of a study drug that is safe and universally available, we have to look for other sources of our discomfort.
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