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The Use of Prescription Drugs, Recreational Drugs, and "Soft Enhancers" for Cognitive Enhancement among Swiss Secondary School Students


Liakoni, Evangelia; Schaub, Michael P; Maier, Larissa J; Glauser, Gaëlle-Vanessa; Liechti, Matthias E (2015). The Use of Prescription Drugs, Recreational Drugs, and "Soft Enhancers" for Cognitive Enhancement among Swiss Secondary School Students. PLoS ONE, 10(10):e0141289.

Abstract

The use of prescription or recreational drugs for cognitive enhancement (CE) is prevalent among students. However, the prevalence of CE among Swiss school students is unknown. We therefore performed a cross-sectional online survey including ≥ 16-year-old students from bridge-year schools (10th grade), vocational schools, and upper secondary schools (10th-12th grade) in the Canton of Zurich to investigate the prevalence of and motives for the use of prescription drugs, recreational drugs, and/or freely available soft enhancers for CE. A total of 1,139 students were included. Of these, 54.5% reported the use of prescription drugs (9.2%), recreational drugs including alcohol (6.2%), or soft enhancers (51.3%) explicitly for CE at least once in their lives. The last-year and last-month prevalence for CE considering all substances was 45.5% and 39.5%, respectively. Soft enhancers were the substances that were most commonly used (ever, last-year, and last-month, respectively), including energy drinks (33.3%, 28.4%, and 24.6%), coffee (29.8%, 25.1%, and 21.9%), and tobacco (12.6%, 9.3%, and 8.3%). CE with methylphenidate was less prevalent (4.0%, 2.8%, and 2.0%). However, the use of prescription drugs, alcohol, or illegal drugs for CE was reported by 13.3% of the participants. The most common motives for use were to stay awake and improve concentration. CE was more prevalent among students who reported higher levels of stress or performance pressure and students with psychiatric disorders. In conclusion, half of the school students had used a substance at least once in their lives to improve school performance. Soft enhancers were most commonly used. Prevalence rates were similar to those reported by Swiss university students, indicating that the use of prescription or recreational drugs for CE already occurs before starting higher education. Performance pressure, stress, and psychiatric disorders may be associated with CE.

Abstract

The use of prescription or recreational drugs for cognitive enhancement (CE) is prevalent among students. However, the prevalence of CE among Swiss school students is unknown. We therefore performed a cross-sectional online survey including ≥ 16-year-old students from bridge-year schools (10th grade), vocational schools, and upper secondary schools (10th-12th grade) in the Canton of Zurich to investigate the prevalence of and motives for the use of prescription drugs, recreational drugs, and/or freely available soft enhancers for CE. A total of 1,139 students were included. Of these, 54.5% reported the use of prescription drugs (9.2%), recreational drugs including alcohol (6.2%), or soft enhancers (51.3%) explicitly for CE at least once in their lives. The last-year and last-month prevalence for CE considering all substances was 45.5% and 39.5%, respectively. Soft enhancers were the substances that were most commonly used (ever, last-year, and last-month, respectively), including energy drinks (33.3%, 28.4%, and 24.6%), coffee (29.8%, 25.1%, and 21.9%), and tobacco (12.6%, 9.3%, and 8.3%). CE with methylphenidate was less prevalent (4.0%, 2.8%, and 2.0%). However, the use of prescription drugs, alcohol, or illegal drugs for CE was reported by 13.3% of the participants. The most common motives for use were to stay awake and improve concentration. CE was more prevalent among students who reported higher levels of stress or performance pressure and students with psychiatric disorders. In conclusion, half of the school students had used a substance at least once in their lives to improve school performance. Soft enhancers were most commonly used. Prevalence rates were similar to those reported by Swiss university students, indicating that the use of prescription or recreational drugs for CE already occurs before starting higher education. Performance pressure, stress, and psychiatric disorders may be associated with CE.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Swiss Research Institute for Public Health and Addiction
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:October 2015
Deposited On:06 Nov 2015 15:57
Last Modified:10 Aug 2017 08:15
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0141289
PubMed ID:26505633

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