Thursday, May 15, 2008

Smart drugs

I don’t know why, but drugs have never held any interest for me. About the only ones that I’m addicted to are caffeine and whatever they put into Wendy’s hamburgers. But nicotine and alcohol have never done anything for me. The only time I’ve smoked in my life are a few cigars. And I probably haven’t smoked one of those in nearly a decade. I have an occasional drink, but again, nothing serious. I can probably count the number of drinks I have each year on one hand.

And trust me, that’s a huge leap. For most of my first three decades on this planet I could count the number of drinks I had in my life on one hand.

So it goes almost without saying that soft drugs like marijuana or hash and harder drugs are right out of the question. I’ve been in rooms where people have been smoking dope and tend to leave after a bit. I don’t like the smell and my tolerance for cigarette smoke in recent years has dropped to near zero. If there’s a person less likely to ever become a meth addict than me, I’d be hard pressed to find him.

I suspect you could find any number of reasons for this. My parents did an effective job of putting the Fear of God into me when I was younger, which probably kept me away from drugs. However, I suspect the real reason might be due to control issues. Yes, some drugs might make you feel great or give you an altered sense of reality that can become addictive. However, as I’ve discovered, I hate not being in control of things. I don’t think I’m a control freak. I don’t try to control everyone around me. I just don’t like being out of control myself.

So drugs that would make me out of control hold little sway. I don’t even read many articles dealing with the latest drugs out in the market. I’m in good health, I have no mental problems (resist the urge, all of you) I don’t need any medication, so why would I pay attention to any of it?

However, I think I just read about my first drug that honestly would make me go “Can I get a crate of that? And can you send it Expresspost?”

(And no, it’s not Rogaine or Viagra)

The drug is called Progivil (Alertec in Canada) and I read it about it on this guy's blog. I understand it’s popular on some university campuses during exam crushes and I know it’s been around for years, but this is the first I’m hearing about it.. And no, it’s not an upper or anything. I’m still reading more about it, but according to Hari, all it does is improve memory, concentration and IQ.

"It’s not an amphetamine or stimulant, the article explained: it doesn’t make you high, or wired. It seems to work by restricting the parts of your brain that make you sluggish or sleepy. No significant negative effects have been discovered.”

So what are the drawbacks? It looks like there might be some insomnia involved. And, oh yeah, weight loss.

So let’s see, it’s a drug that makes me smarter, allows me to focus and, as a side effect, I can lose weight. I'm surprised I haven't started shopping at online pharmacies yet.

Granted, the consequences of long term exposure are not really known yet. An increased risk Alzheimer’s could be one of them for all I know. So a lot more research needs to be done before I would even seriously consider buying some. But if this shit is for real, then it is seriously tempting. A drug that would let me focus better at work? A drug that would improve my concentration so I can finally break the back of the book I’m working on and perhaps getting started on the next one?

Oh yeah, that’s deeply tempting stuff for a guy who has always had problems focusing and procrastinates like a son of a bitch. This merits more research. Well, more than what I'm finding on Wikipedia at any rate.

Anyone heard of this or used it?

Last Five
1. Rock 'n' roll star - Oasis
2. Save the best for last - Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies
3. I will follow you into the dark - Death Cab for Cutie
4. The whole of the moon - The Waterboys*
5. A legal matter - The Who


Dale Kirby said...

"No significant negative effects have been discovered".

I'm more and more certain that one day I will wake and find myself living in a Newfoundland version of Shaun of the Dead.

Kiggavik said...

I see in the Wikipedia article that it isn't as efficacious on people with high IQs. I guess that means there is no point in you or I using it.

Geoff Meeker said...

Good to see that you got through yesterday without resorting to drink or crack. It must have been an acutely bad day indeed, if you couldn't even blog about it.

towniebastard said...

1. Dale, I thought you could see Shaun of the Dead reenacted every weekend on George Street.

2. Clare, you're right in that people with high IQs like us (tongue is planted in cheek for those missing it) don't need it. But man, could I ever use something that focuses me. I could use a lot of that.

3. Geoff, consider where I live. Then consider what the big story of the week has been where I live. That's what I've been dealing with. I'd love to blog about it, but I think it would be frowned upon.

On the upside, I don't work for Eastern Health back in NL. Man, that's got to be a deeply medicated bunch of comms people. Thank god they know doctors, eh?

Scarlet said...

"Smart Drugs"
Alertec is for sick people. According to reports from those people (who uncontrollably fall asleep during the day) the effectiveness of the drug wears off quickly leading to a "cocktail" of Alertec and other drugs and decending into the usual drug hell.
Not worth the fun. Try meditation.

Mr. Gunn said...

Hate to disappoint you, but the article discussing modafinil was a little over-enthusiastic. It's more suited for people who have to say alert and watchful for long periods of time, rather than people who need to make better decisions. It would help night watchmen or troops on combat missions more than it would help a student, scientists, or software developer. For deep analytical thinking, you'll get no help from provigil because you're trading speed for depth, and it's not gonna increase your IQ or memory.

I kinda feel like punching Johann Hari in the face. Viagra for the brain? Did they really just say that? What a way to start a intelligent, considered, high-level discussion of the topic! I think Johann was probably not sleeping well and that's why they got such a boost, but please note that getting a good night's sleep comes with no side effects and requires no prescription.

If you'd like to read more about this stuff, I recommend Smart Drugs and Nutrients at Amazon.

towniebastard said...

Which is why I read a ton of information before I even think about taking drugs, especially ones that would affect my brain. Just because one person says something positive about it, despite my ravings, doesn't really mean I'm going to rush out and buy it.

But thanks for the comments and the links. I appreciate it.