The Secret to Studying for Finals

My daughter Caitlin called the other day to tell me how she thought she fared on her Spanish final. She said her hands were still shaking — not because she was nervous about the exam — but because she had been gobbling up chocolate-covered coffee beans to stay awake.

I concluded that getting pumped up with caffeine so she could study into the night was better than what many of her friends are ingesting to remain alert during the crush of finals. Caitlin says that most of the students she knows are taking Adderall, which is a drug used for attention deficit disorder.

I wasn’t happy to hear that kids are popping Adderall, which is a Schedule II drug that puts it in the same category as cocaine and opium.  But then I heard about a new study that made me reconsider.

Seven ethicists and neuro-scientists recently published a paper in Nature that suggests that these drugs should be legalized for adults who want to give their brain a boost whether it’s for studying for finals, finishing a project at work or any other time when they need to be especially alert. Is taking Adderall or Ritalin that much different from me taking an Extra Strength Execedrine tablet (60 mg. of caffeine) in the afternoon so I can stay awake at my computer?

A writer for Wired magazine discussed the Nature paper here.

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