Brain Drugs and Corporate Climbers


Both the New York Observer and New York Times investigate the rise of the use of “cognitive enhancement” and energy-increasing psychiatric drugs among stressed workers and ambitious executives.

“For the modern mad men and wolves of Wall Street, gone are the days of widespread day drinking and functional cocaine use,” reports the Observer. “Instead, in this age of efficiency above all else, corporate climbers sometimes seek a simple brain boost, something to help them to get the job done without manic jitters or a nasty crash. For that, they are turning to nootropics… chemical supplements that claim to improve cognitive function, increase alertness and strengthen memory and recall.”

“(I)n interviews, dozens of people in a wide spectrum of professions said they and co-workers misused stimulants like Adderall, Vyvanse and Concerta to improve work performance,” reports the Times. “Most spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing their jobs or access to the medication.”

Nootropic Brain Drugs Rise in Popularity for Today’s Cutthroat Corporate Climbers (New York Observer, April 14, 2015)

Workers Seeking Productivity in a Pill Are Abusing A.D.H.D. Drugs (New York Times, April 19, 2015)


    • In this case I don’t think so.

      After having been in corporate culture for even a brief time, you quickly realize it is a heart of darkness, and it’s easy to understand why people turn to these drugs in order to get an advantage or merely to cope.

      The marketing of drug companies is tangential. The idea to use mental enhancement drugs is mainly spread by word of mouth including weirdo self-help gurus on the internet like the “bullet-proof executive”.

      After that it is just people experimenting with these drugs that either convinces them to use them or not; no marketing involved.

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      • I beg to differ because pharmaceutical corporations did heavily advertise these toxins as sharpening the mind, focus, and thinking. So naturally some people will assume they will give them a mental “boost” or “advantage.”

        You also seem to have implied that these drugs actually can give people an advantage or help them to cope. I don’t find that to be credible either, especially regarding long-term usage.

        Furthermore, “spellbinding” as explained by Dr. Peter Breggin, may keep many people taking these drugs. The users think they’re performing at an enhanced, higher level, but they’re merely “spellbound” when believing this.

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        • It’s not my intent to promote any drug, legal or illegal.

          I see them all as a deal with the devil. You going in thinking, hoping, you’re going to get the better part of that deal but that generally is not the case except for some life-saving meds.

          My reply was only to address the fact that advertising/placebo effect is not what is causing this. Advertising doesn’t help but there’s something else insidious going on here and it’s going to drive a legal, illegal or supplement market regardless.

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  1. I discovered nootropics back in 2013. I was certainly not seeking a “brain boost.” As Dragon Slayer pointed out, you have to have brains in the first place. What I was looking for was something to help me with binge eating. Some of these nootropics really did help! After a while, I stopped taking them. I discovered pine nut oil, which worked! Then, I ended up realizing that other healthy fats will work just as well, and cost much less.

    I was a person who binged not when I was hungry, but right after a meal. Leaving psychiatry allowed me to study this scientifically. I figured out that all it takes is a few binges to get physically hooked. This is how it works: The body learns fast that it is going to be subject to a major onslaught of calories. Since it knows this, it braces itself by shooting up the insulin level. Now, you’re almost guaranteed to binge! The reason why people binge in response to “food triggers” is not psychological, but actually what happens is that the body decides that certain triggers are a warning that a binge is coming. This leads to a sudden rise in insulin.

    I was absolutely right when I knew, even back in 1983, that forcing the binge eating to stop would stop the cycle and at least give me a chance to beat it. I was doing the right thing when I put myself in the hospital. Of course, it was a heavy price to pay and a very roundabout way of doing things.

    I am putting this here in hopes that anyone suffering from binge eating might learn from my experiences, not that what I learned necessarily applies to anyone else, but maybe this will be helpful.

    I realized that eating some kind of fat, olive oil or nuts included, in the beginning of a meal will help prevent a binge. Gradually, I stopped bingeing. I stopped starving myself. It is great not having to worry about it constantly.

    I have revisited nootropics recently because after all these years I still have drug-induced insomnia. While yes, nootropics aren’t the best thing for you, I have to consider the harm that sleep deprivation does to my body (and my social life!), and weigh the pros and cons. I’m sticking with nootropics for now. I’ve been able to taper a little bit, too. I’m still tinkering with the dose.

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