Students fake symptoms to get 'brain booster' drug

Students fake symptoms to get 'brain booster' drug

SINGAPORE - Students are mimicking ADHD symptoms in a bid to get their hands on a drug that can help them improve their concentration.

Ritalin is most often prescribed to sufferers of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But a handful of young adults have also been using it as a "brain booster" to give them an edge over their competition.

The white circular tablets contain the stimulant methylphenidate and work by activating parts of the brain that allow concentration, "dimming" others.

For a child with ADHD, Ritalin stimulates the production of dopamine - the brain chemical involved with motivation - and helps them to focus on the task at hand.

For the average youth, it boosts their concentration power, tuning out the "white noise" often blamed for procrastination.

The Straits Times spoke to six former and current Ritalin users, who said the drug is favoured by those in reading-intensive university courses and jobs requiring prolonged concentration periods.

Whole chapters of textbooks can be read in a third of the time, and number-crunching tasks whizz by, they said.

Most such Ritalin takers do not actually have ADHD and rely on friends who have the drug - or even imitate symptoms to a psychiatrist.

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