Cognitive enhancers, also known as nootropics, are a category of drugs with the ability to increase mental performance. Many rave about such “smart drugs” helping them to study, take tests, or increase work performance. Ginkgo biloba, piracetam, and vinpocetine are some popular cognitive enhancers, all with varying mechanisms of action in the human brain. For example, Ginko biloba increases blood circulation; the simple idea regarding its effect is that increased blood circulation results in a more energized brain. Still, the FDA has not yet confirmed how effective any of these “smart drugs” are; as a result, cognitive enhancers are presently deemed supplements.
Men and women of the United States military are suffering from mental illnesses at an increasing rate. Among service members involved in the on-going conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, recent research found that nearly two-thirds displayed signs or symptoms of mental illness, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, or substance or alcohol abuse. Treating veterans with mental illness is an important task of the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system, but a new study reports that off-label use of psychiatric medications is near 60%, prompting concerns about the appropriate use of medication and optimal provision of mental health services.
While illicit drug use in the United States is certainly a public health concern, the increasing use of legal, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs for non-medical use is alarming. The most recent data available from the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that 3.1 million people aged 12 to 25 years had used an OTC drug to get high. Dextromethorphan (DXM) -- a cough suppressant available in nearly 150 OTC products -- is the biggest target of misuse. Now, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) is voluntarily placing warning labels on DXM-containing products to caution buyers about teen medicine abuse.
New data emerging from the investigation of the death of Michael Jackson reveal that the iconic pop star was taking very high doses of sedative medications during the course of his career. At the time of his death, it was reported that he was taking at least ten tablets of the powerful sedative Xanax every night. Some report that this was an improvement over his previous ingestion of 30 to 40 tablets nightly. To the uninitiated, doses that high would be lethal. To someone who had developed a tolerance to the medication, however, doses in that range may be necessary to achieve the desired effect.
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