Brain Boosting Drugs - To Take or Not to Take?

Recently, two students taking an examination in Singapore blacked out as a result of taking brain boosting drugs. The practice of taking brain boosting drugs has become increasingly common in the country. I believe that this is because of the “kiasu” mentality. In Singapore, there is strong competition, and this will cause the children as well as their parents to do almost everything in their power in order to achieve good marks.

However, “self-medicating” like this has its disadvantages. Firstly, there will be the peer pressure that will eventually cause almost all students to be taking brain boosting drugs sooner or later. After seeing that many of their friends and classmates taking the drugs, they will be under pressure to take the drugs too, as they will feel that they will be left behind everyone else if things continue.

As a result, there will be more people experiencing the side effects. With advantages to the brain boosting drugs also come their side effects. What happened at the examination hall is a good example. Provigil may cause anxiety, lower the user’s mood and can trigger serious skin reactions. Furthermore, the drug is addictive and this may even lead to a country where the students become drug addicts. In addition, the students may be desensitized to the idea of taking drugs. They might have the wrong mindset that since they are already taking brain-boosting drugs, then other drugs should not be that harmful. This ultimately harms the child and society as a whole. The problem even may be further exacerbated since these drugs are so easily available.

Some argue that since nobody sets a ceiling to a person’s mental abilities and if the person is fine with cognitive enhancers like coffee and private tutors, then there is no need to fuss over the pills. However, I feel that this statement is not applicable here. Coffee and private tutors do not cause any harm or damage to a person’s body, but this is not the case with drugs. As stated earlier, brain boosting drugs can cause harm to the body, such as skin problems, and in some cases can cause heart rhythm problems. We can also take example from “The Mind of A Mnemonist (1987)” where the scientist’s patient had limitless memory. As a result, he could remember so many facts and events that his mind was overwhelmed by details. Although this is an extreme example that is not likely to happen, the effect intended remains. We cannot always be seeking to be the top, at the risk of our health. The effects of the drugs are not long-lasting, and to keep at the standard, we need to continue taking the drugs, which then have harmful effects on our health. Even if the effects were everlasting, I feel that the health risks stand.

Even so, the drugs are not a super pill where the students are immediately top in their classes. First off, if everyone takes the drugs, is it possible for everyone to be top? Secondly, hard work is still necessary for one to do well. With or without the drugs, the student still needs to trudge over his work and take pride and effort in whatever he does to achieve success. Thirdly, there might still be long-term effects of the drugs that are unknown to us.

In my opinion, I believe that taking these drugs are not the way to go. The drugs, which although have effects to one’s ability to remember things and improves the brain’s functioning ability for a limited time, pose health risks that will unquestionably cause damage. Believing in oneself, hard work and the right mindset will bring a person to great heights.


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Hi guys, I'm a student in Singapore, and this are some thoughts and essays I have written over the years.