Researchers in Germany have found that 15 percent of recreational triathletes admitted to brain doping in which they make use of prescription medicines that increase attention. It was revealed by the study that taking substances to enhance the brain is a concept more popular among amateur athletes than taking drugs to boost the body.
The research, published in the journal Plos One, suggested that brain doping is more popular as many of the substances are not banned. It also revealed that 13 percent of competitors reported using physical enhancers such as anabolic steroids or human growth hormone.
It is believed by the researchers that many so-called "smart drugs" are widely being used for improving mental functions outside the patients groups they have been designed to help. The researchers also expressed concerns that competitors may be using these substances in a variety of sports to gain a distinctive edge.
In the study, participants were asked whether they had made use of physical or brain-enhancing substances in the past 12 months. It was disclosed that 13 percent overall remarked they had taken drugs like EPO, anabolic steroids, or growth hormones. On the other hand, 15.1 percent of those interviewed said they used products including amphetamines, or medicines like Modafinil or Methylphenidate. The research also suggested that more men than women admitted to both types of doping.
Two popular "smart drugs" include Modafinil, a medicine that is used for treating the sleep disorder narcolepsy. It is used by some athletes to stay awake and improve alertness and the ability to concentrate. Methylphenidate, known as Ritalin and Concerta, is another drug used as a psychostimulant to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) but prescriptions for these drugs have increased by 50 percent in the six years from 2007.
Up to 8 percent of major league players in baseball have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and prescribed medications. It is believed that this is due to brain doping in action as these substances have the potential of improving baseball players' concentration. Prof Perikles Simon, from the University of Mainz, one of the authors, remarked we were not too surprised at the extent of cognitive doping and added he thinks it is quite realistic and it goes hand-in-hand with the prevalence rates that have been found in the US at the college level. It is believed by scientists that there is a spectrum of substance use that can include legal enhancements such as nutritional supplements and they also believe that athletes who demonstrate a general propensity to enhance can end up taking illegal and dangerous materials.
Prof Simon added there is some searching for additional help, we found a strong connection between those taking legal cognitive enhancers and those taking illicit ones and there seems to be a certain proportion of our society that is willing to take a bit more of a risk to gain an advantage. The researchers warn that abusing brain doping substances regardless of the enhancement can have damaging impacts in the long run.