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Students on drugs to stay awake

By Jamie Grierson

More than a fifth of students have admitted taking so-called "smart drugs" to stay awake and study longer, a survey has found.

Substances such as Modafinil and Ritalin, which are designed to treat brain disorders, come in tablet form and are often bought off the internet.

A survey of 1,800 students conducted by national student newspaper The Tab found that only 9% of respondents considered taking the drugs to be cheating.

About half of the students said they bought the drug online and it was most popular among science students.

Professor Andrea Petroczi, who specialises in public health at Kingston University, said there is little evidence that taking them actually makes people more clever.

"It's not a magic pill," she said. "It doesn't work without putting the work in. It helps you to put more work in."

A review is being carried out into the tablets by the Government's official drug advisers, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).

About half of those questioned said they experienced some side-effects, with reduced appetite, an inability to sleep and a need to go to the toilet more often the most commonly reported.

But it appears those side-effects are not discouraging people – 20% of Modafinil users surveyed said they were taking it every day.

Modafinil is a stimulant and works by preventing excessive sleepiness during waking hours.

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