What it's like to take a brain-enhancing drug every day for a week in Colombia

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Having ADHD and being familiar with similar drugs, I’m wary of the possibility of these becoming common or even encouraged in the future workplace. I can understand the attraction of increasing productivity, but is this going to be another race to the bottom by burning ourselves out to produce more and more?

As much as I would like to see it, I don’t think we’re going to see shorter work weeks and earlier retirement ages anytime soon here in the US, so frontloading productivity during youth might not be helpful if the long term decline in cognitive ability many of these drug may cause gimp us when we’re older.

Coffee is one thing, these are going to require due diligence to ensure safe use.


Or: “Journalist with basically no pharmacological knowledge does Modafinil during his week-long vacation to Colombia and doesn’t have much to say about it”


PROTIP: Modafinil may require a prescription in the States, but the prodrug adrafinil is legally available to all.


Good stuff it is. Even 50 mg every other day can be a difference between day and night, the critical little push to get out of bed and do stuff and think and plan. With such low doses you won’t feel you took anything, absolutely no symptoms to be aware of, but things get done. The slight mood elevation effect makes the world look not so bleak. And it does not interfere with sleep like other stuff, even caffeine.

But it is easy to overtax yourself, especially with higher doses, and crash hard. Give yourself time off, especially if you already have permanent fatigue to contend with.


I dunno, it sounds less to me like enhanced brain and more like schizophrenia. I’m stickin to coffee, thanks.

Not to jump on your point but, what the FDA doesn’t slow drug development to a slow, insanely expensive crawl enough as it is?
How about let people use (or abuse) them as they personally see fit? Just like coffee or other substances?

Cause otherwise, by ‘due diligence’, aren’t we back to talking about enforcing compliance with the threat of force? And then it’s more of the same War On Drugs™: Cops kicking doors down and seizing all these “dangerous designer drugz!1!11!!!” and breathless 60 Minutes special on the dangerous trend.


But - get’s to use the trip as a business deduction!


You can’t buy adrafinil in the states.

EDIT: Welp, I was wrong, it turns out. Did some research, and it’s unregulated.

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Would have been nice if he’d mentioned which nootropic he was ingesting. And his reaction to whichever one it was really doesn’t seem to be that much different than that which I experienced taking small doses of amphetamines during college to study.

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My concern is more with workplace ethics; if employers know they can squeeze more hours out of their workers if they use these medications, who’s to say employers won’t try to exploit this to its fullest?

It’s like performance enhancing drugs in sports. Do it all you want for your own business, but professionally its should never be required as a prerequisite to advancing your career. I know I sound all Flowers for Algernon, but as an employee we should have the right to use, or not use without penalty.


Unions!!! … oh… right…


Over the past few hundred years, then entire thrust of human activity has been a race to the bottom… so, yea.

From TFA:

I woke up in our Airbnb-rented apartment the morning after arriving in Bogotá with my girlfriend, and popped my nootropic cherry with a standard 200mg prescription-strength Modafinil, reportedly the “smart drug” of choice for the wolves of Wall Street.

Emphasize mine.

You forgot to take today’s focus pill, didn’t you? :stuck_out_tongue:

Yes, we’ve improved our productivity and quality of life and will continue to do so. But then there’s trading quality of life for yet more productivity.

Seriously thought I must have…However, this is all I get when I click “Read The Full Post” …No mention of any drug (but thanks for the clarification):

““Within about 20 minutes, and after a cup of coffee, I could feel it. A
coursing through my veins, like my blood was pumping at full blast, but
being kept under control by some external monitoring force. Throughout
the day, I found myself picking up conversational cues in the Spanish
being spoken around me—I speak very little of it—and sort of felt like
my eyesight had gotten one of those rear-view mirror side extenders you
see in cabs and on the Buicks of the elderly. Nothing overwhelming,
just… there. In every way.” – Dan McCarthy of the Daily Beast visits Colombia, where the nootropics flow more freely than cocaine.”

Just putting it out there that I personally know a guy who ordered a bunch of brain enhancing drugs from South America and ODd and died. I don’t know specifically what they were supposed to be, or whether they were what they were advertised as, though. Caveat Emptor.

Well, it definitely wasn’t a nootropic. It was just a drug. Completely irrelevant.

He seemed to think it was brain enhancing, and was taking it all the time for weeks.

Some comments over with the original article said modafinil’s not a drug you can abuse, and it doesn’t cause jitters. Sorry, but those are very dosage-related individual-drug-response issues, though it’s harder to get modafinil to be fun than most things I’ve tried.

I tried modafinil a few years ago when I was having sleep problems. I didn’t feel like I had any particular mental enhancements. It did make me awake, and at doses of 100-150mg (enough to be awake, not enough to cause jitters), it lasted about 12 hours, then I’d tend to crash. But it was the kind of awake that coffee gives you - if you’ve had enough sleep, it’s fine, but if you haven’t had enough sleep, there’s this bleak black undertone to everything, and you can’t just bail on getting work done in the afternoon and take a nap.

I still use it once in a while, and it’d probably be useful for doing lots of driving (since it lasts a lot longer than caffeine), but mostly if coffee isn’t doing its job I’ll have tea or cocoa or more coffee as well.

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