More and more people are doing brain doping

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Addictiveness: consumption of performance-enhancing medicines has increased massively

The use of performance-enhancing drugs in the population is increasing massively. In 2009, the German employee health insurance (DAK) came to the conclusion in a representative survey that about five percent of the employees had used performance-enhancing or mood-enhancing medication. The use of the supposed miracle cure (brain doping) is often started at school. Now the German Center for Addiction Issues warns of the addictive potential of the supposed miracle cure.

The enormous pressure to perform in everyday life means that more and more people regularly take performance-enhancing substances to keep up with society. According to the DAK survey, around 320,000 employees take medicines daily or several times a week to improve their performance or improve their mood. More and more people seem to consider it justifiable to use drugs to optimize their cognitive performance so that they can keep up in everyday work (school) life. The fact that the use of the medication is not medically necessary and that it can possibly cause significant health problems is apparently regularly suppressed.

With drugs against the pressure to perform? In order to meet the requirements of the modern performance society, more and more people in Germany are taking supposed miracle pills. The DAK report makes it clear that the inhibition threshold for the use of performance-enhancing and mood-enhancing drugs has dropped significantly in recent years. Around five percent of employees take appropriate preparations without a medical indication. Against this background, the experts at the German Central Office for Addiction Questions (DHS) and the drug expert, Professor Doctor Gerd Glaeske from the Center for Social Policy at the University of Bremen, warned of the risk of addiction from brain doping. In addition, many of the preparations used are demonstrably ineffective and would rather impair than promote cognitive performance, explained Prof. Dr. Glass. According to the renowned expert, for example, the use of Ritalin "demonstrably does not lead to a desired mood improvement or increase in performance in healthy people" but rather "reduction in performance and activity". In addition, taking the supposed miracle cure often increases the risk of side effects , Dependencies and serious long-term consequences, the experts explained.

Side effects and risk of addiction

At its 19th scientific symposium in Tutzing on Lake Starnberg, the German Center for Addiction Issues warned of the consequences of so-called brain doping. With the help of medication, more and more adolescents and adults are trying "to increase the performance of the brain, but also emotional and social competence", the DHS announced. Around 800,000 employees stated in the DAK investigation “that they dope themselves regularly and very specifically, the DHS experts continue to report. According to the study, around 320,000 employees "take medicines every day or several times a week to improve performance and lighten the mood". So-called brain doping is becoming a growing problem. Because the supposed miracle drugs often do not achieve the desired effect and in addition to possible health problems due to the risk of side effects, there is considerable addiction potential, the experts warn. The main problem here is not physical but psychological. Those affected often no longer see themselves able to withstand the pressure to perform in everyday life without the medication.

Numerous undesirable effects caused by brain doping drugs The DHS managing director, Dr. Raphael Gassmann explained that brain doping generally means “taking chemical substances” to increase performance and lighten the mood. Since they are "easy to use and quickly available compared to the use of other neurotechnologies", more and more Germans are turning to the supposed miracle pills, explained Gassmann. The abuse of prescription drugs is an attempt to meet even the most absurd performance requirements. According to the expert, the most common preparations are "stimulating agents such as methylphenidate" (for example Ritalin), which is used in the medically indicated treatment of the attention deficit Hyperactivity syndrome (ADHD) is used and the modafinil (trade name Vigil) used for the therapy of sleeping sickness (narcolepsy). In addition, "certain antidepressants (including serotonin reuptake inhibitors, SSRIs)" are increasingly being used to improve general psychological well-being, although they were actually developed to treat depressive moods and anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders, the experts at DHS explained. In healthy people, however, various antidepressants tend to have a performance-inhibiting effect, so that medically unfounded use should be rejected in principle, the DHS reports. The anti-dementia drugs used to improve cognitive performance are also questionable, since "there is no evidence to improve the memory of healthy people through anti-dementia drugs". Both anti-dementia drugs and anti-depressants generally tend to "trigger a variety of undesirable effects in healthy people, such as headaches, restlessness and nausea," warned the DHS.

Aligning workplace regulations and social benefits in terms of health policy Experts such as Prof. Gerd Glaeske come to the conclusion that taking the supposed miracle cure “demonstrably does not lead to a desired mood improvement or increase in performance in healthy people”. Instead, "the reduction in performance and activity threatens" and, among other undesirable side effects, the stimulating agents methylphenidate and modafinil, for example, have a particularly high risk of psychological dependency, explained Glaeske. In general, according to the DHS experts, the risk of psychological dependence is particularly high when it comes to brain doping. This increased risk of dependency should "be countered individually with behavioral prevention and institutionally with relationship prevention", demanded the DHS. Particularly in the area of ​​job regulations and social benefits, the additional implementation of preventive benefits is required at "socio-political and institutional level". Workplace regulations and social benefits may no longer only be "discussed and decided in terms of economic policy, but must also be aligned more clearly than before in terms of health policy", warned the DHS. Raphael Gaßmann concluded with the conclusion: “We don't just live to work! If school, training and work make you sick or addicted, it is time to defuse them fundamentally. ”In order to be able to deal better with the pressure to perform better, Prof. Renate Soellner recommended to pay more attention to the body's own signals in order to prevent overloading. Good time management with breaks can help as well as a well-organized workplace, the expert explained. (fp)

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Image: Gerd Altmann /

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