I know I’m a Media and Comms blogger, but due to the fact that I have a split degree, every now and then I like to give my neglected topic Sociology, some overdue TLC.
Last semester, I took a Sociology module known as ‘Drugs and Society’ which covered the concept of ‘doping’ in sport (using drugs to improve athletic performance). After banning particular drugs in sports started to become problematic in terms of regulation and discovery, this presented the controversial argument that perhaps if all athletes were given the opportunity to use performance enhancing drugs then this would create an equal playing field. Either that, or it’s simply considered to be cheating.
In my opinion, the excitement from sports emerges from the raw, natural athletic ability of sportsmen and women but when drugs are introduced to the picture and more sophisticated methods of taking the drugs are created, it becomes more difficult to even discover sportsmen and women are using.
Today I stumbled across an article on The Guardian that examined student’s increasing use of ‘smart drugs’ in university settings. Through loop holes on the internet, students are supposedly finding ways to source drugs such as Modafinil (a prescription-only medication for narcolepsy) or adderall/various ADHD medications, and are exploiting them in the hopes of benefiting academically. Comparing this to the case of doping, it could technically be argued that this is another form of cheating in some ways, due to the unequal playing ground that is established when drugs are introduced.
Through being part of a generation of individuals who increasingly desire instant gratification or struggle to find a balance which allows them to put the hard work in, a lot of this makes sense to me. However, I’m also part of a generation where the inspiration and motivation is low. Our university fees are sky rocketing, our job opportunities are depressing and restrictive, whilst the expectations stay high. This could partially help in explaining why students are reaching for chemical alternatives for concentration but it doesn’t reveal the entire picture. Trends for drugs move with the times, and perhaps this generations’ trend is for mind focusing substances, allowing them to put in the hard work they naturally cannot.
Anjan Chatterjee, a professor of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania, said that ”When I was young, students would use drugs to check out. Now they’re using them to check in”, fighting this idea that students simply want to use drugs get off their faces.
The worry is that over time, this type of drug using will become normalised among our culutre and that natural academic ability will become less valued and personally, that’s something that I am not ok with.